Diseases

Type 1 diabetes: the causes

What are the causes of type 1 diabetes?

The natural history that leads to type 1 diabetes seems to occur in several stages:

  • the beta cells of the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed by the body's defense system (the immune system). The secretory functions of insulin then gradually and discreetly alter, the destruction process usually evolving over several years.
  • the first symptoms of the disease appear several years later, when more than 80% of the pancreatic beta cells were destroyed
  • Hyperglycemia due to insulin deficiency plays an aggravating role: it depletes the remaining ß cells, resulting in a decrease in the peripheral sensitivity to the action of insulin, and the few remaining cells would disappear more or less completely.

The appearance of this autoimmune reaction would be linked to the association:

  • a genetic predisposition (although in more than 80% of cases there is no family history of type 1 diabetes),

How is a genetic disease transmitted?

There are more than 6, 000 listed genetic diseases. What is a genetic disease and how can it be transmitted?


  • environmental factors, such as early exposure in life to certain viruses (rubella, measles, CMV, EBV, varicella zoster ...) or food (cow's milk protein), which could modulate the autoimmune reaction.

Although no single gene can explain the disease alone, the most important of them discovered to date is localized in the HLA system, involved in immune tolerance to "self" cells.

Type 1 diabetes is often associated with other autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves' disease, Addison's disease, Biermer's disease, vitiligo, celiac disease, etc.).

These environmental factors should not be confused with the precipitating factors of the diagnosis (influenza, stress, etc.), which can at most advance (of a few days or weeks) the onset of diabetes by increasing the insulin requirements, that the pancreas is no longer able to manufacture. Moreover, to date, no study has been able to establish that vaccinations increased the risk of diabetes.

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To read :

> Diabetes in women: what peculiarities?
> Glycemic index: what is it?
> Diabetes and travel: what you need to know

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