Scientists have recently analyzed the association between herpesviruses and type 2 diabetes. This study is available in the journal Diabetologia.

Typically, humans are infected by eight different herpes viruses, namely, herpes simplex viruses (HSV), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and human herpesviruses (HHV). All these viruses can cause lifelong latent infection after initial mild systemic infection.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common metabolic diseases. An individual is known to be prediabetic when diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG). Studies have shown that persons with prediabetes are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with normal glucose levels. In addition, several studies have identified both genetic factors as well as other relevant factors, such as obesity, unhealthy diet, and inflammation, which enhance the risks of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have found that type 2 diabetes reduces the body’s innate and adaptive immune capacities, thus making an individual more susceptible to infection. A high volume of research has shown that diabetes enhances the risk of viral infection. These studies have reported that individuals with diabetes are at a greater risk of contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infection.

Recently, scientists have established an aetiological connection between viruses, namely, enteroviruses and Coxsackie, and type 1 diabetes. Interestingly, an increased prevalence of HHV8 has been observed among type 2 diabetic patients in multiple populations. Further longitudinal studies are therefore needed to understand the potential link between herpesvirus infection and (pre)diabetes.

The present longitudinal population-based cohort study has investigated the association of the seven herpesviruses, i.e., HSV1, HSV2, VZV, EBV, CMV, HHV6, and HHV7, with the incidence of (pre)diabetes. In addition, researchers have cross-sectionally analyzed their relationship with HbA1c (average blood sugar measure for the last two months).

Scientists obtained data from KORA, a population-based health research platform in Germany. They conducted follow-up studies of the KORA study cohort using the F4 (2006–2008) and FF4 (2013–2014) studies. Researchers identified candidates with normal glucose tolerance at baseline. These candidates were at a higher risk of (pre)diabetes. All the participants underwent extensive phenotyping, including viral multiplex serology for human herpesviruses, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and HbA1c.

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