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Experimental Diabesity Research
Volume 4 (2003), Issue 1, Pages 35-44
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15438600303733

Development of Type 1 Diabetes in Wild Bank Voles Associated With Islet Autoantibodies and the Novel Ljungan Virus

1Apodemus AB, Stockholm, Sweden
2Zoological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3Department of Medicine, University of Washington, R. H. Williams Laboratory, 1959 N. E. Pacific Street, Box 357710, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
4Department of Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences, University of Kalmar, Kalmar, Sweden
5Astrid Lindgrens Children's Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Received 18 December 2002; Accepted 9 January 2003

Copyright © 2003 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.

Abstract

Wild bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) may develop diabetes in laboratory captivity. The aim of this study was to test whether bank voles develop type 1 diabetes in association with Ljungan virus. Two groups of bank voles were analyzed for diabetes, pancreas histology, autoantibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65), IA-2, and insulin by standardized radioligand-binding assays as well as antibodies to in vitro transcribed and translated Ljungan virus antigens. Group A represented 101 trapped bank voles, which were screened for diabetes when euthanized within 24 hours of capture. Group B represented 67 bank voles, which were trapped and kept in the laboratory for 1 month before being euthanized. Group A bank voles did not have diabetes. Bank voles in group B (22/67; 33%) developed diabetes due to specific lysis of pancreatic islet beta cells. Compared to nondiabetic group B bank voles, diabetic animals had increased levels of GAD65 (P < .0001), IA-2 (P < .0001), and insulin (P = .03) autoantibodies. Affected islets stained positive for Ljungan virus, a novel picorna virus isolated from bank voles. Ljungan virus inoculation of nondiabetic wild bank voles induced beta-cell lysis. Compared to group A bank voles, Ljungan virus antibodies were increased in both nondiabetic (P < .0001) and diabetic (P = .0015) group B bank voles. Levels of Ljungan virus antibodies were also increased in young age at onset of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes in children (P < .01). These findings support the hypothesis that the development of type 1 diabetes in captured wild bank voles is associated with Ljungan virus. It is speculated that bank voles may have a possible zoonotic role as a reservoir and vector for virus that may contribute to the incidence of type 1 diabetes in humans.