Diabetes induced by Coxsackie virus: Initiation by bystander damage and not molecular mimicry

Marc S. Horwitz, Linda M. Bradley, Judith Harbertson, Troy Krahl, Jae Lee, Nora Sarvetnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

561 Scopus citations


Viral induction of autoimmunity is thought to occur by either bystander T-cell activation or molecular mimicry. Coxsackie B4 virus is strongly associated with the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in humans and shares sequence similarity with the islet autoantigen glutamic acid decarboxylase. We infected different strains of mice with Coxsackie B4 virus to discriminate between the two possible induction mechanisms, and found that mice with susceptible MHC alleles had no viral acceleration of diabetes, but mice with a T cell receptor transgene specific for a different islet autoantigen rapidly developed diabetes. These results show that diabetes induced by Coxsackie virus infection is a direct result of local infection leading to inflammation, tissue damage, and the release of sequestered islet antigen resulting in the re-stimulation of resting autoreactive T cells, further indicating that the islet antigen sensitization is an indirect consequence of the viral infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-785
Number of pages5
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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