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International Journal of Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 1 (2000), Issue 3, Pages 165-175

Tissue Culture of Isolated Human Pancreatic Islets Infected With Different Strains of Coxsackievirus B4: Assessment of Virus Replication and Effects on Islet Morphology and Insulin Release

1Department of Women's and Children's Health/Paediatrics, Akademiska Hospital, Uppsala S-751 23, Sweden
2Department of Medical Sciences/Infectious Diseases and Clinical Virology, Uppsala, Sweden

Accepted 3 March 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The aim was to study whether different strains of Coxsackievirus B4 (CBV-4) are able to infect human pancreatic islet cells in vitro and cause morphological and functional damages. Isolated islets maintained in tissue culture were infected with five well- characterised strains of CBV-4. Aliquots of the culture medium were analysed with regard to virus replication and insulin content. Infected and uninfected islets were examined by light microscopy to determine the degree of virus-induced cytopathic effect (CPE). The results showed that the islet cells were susceptible to infection by all the strains of CBV-4 although the outcome of the infection differed. The virus titres obtained at 48 and 72 hours post infection differed significantly between all the CBV-4 strains (p < 0.001), indicating different ability to replicate in islet cells. Pronounced to weak CPE, which was partly due to the origin (donor) of the islets, was induced by four of the five CBV-4 strains. One strain (VD2921) replicated without causing CPE despite high virus titres. One (V89-4557) of the CBV-4 strains always revealed pronounced CPE. Infection by this strain also caused functional impairment that significantly affected insulin response to high glucose at 48 hours post infection (p < 0.001). Replication of another CBV-4 strain (JVB) in the islet cells significantly increased the release of insulin compared to non-infected control cells (p < 0.001) indicating damage of the β-cells leading to leakage of insulin.