Insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes is a prototypic organ-specific autoimmune disease resulting from the selective destruction of insulin-secreting beta cells within pancreatic islets of Langerhans by an immune-mediated inflammation involving autoreactive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes which infiltrate pancreatic islets. Current treatment is substitutive, i.e. chronic use of exogenous insulin which, in spite of significant advances, is still associated with major constraints (multiple daily injections, risks of hypoglycaemia) and lack of effectiveness over the long term in preventing severe degenerative complications. Finding a cure for autoimmune diabetes by establishing effective immune-based therapies is a real medical health challenge, as the disease incidence increases steadily in industrialized countries. As the disease affects mainly children and young adults, any candidate immune therapy must therefore be safe and avoid a sustained depression of immune responses with the attendant problems of recurrent infection and drug toxicity. Thus, inducing or restoring immune tolerance to target autoantigens, controlling the pathogenic response while preserving the host reactivity to exogenous/unrelated antigens, appears to be the ideal approach. Our objective is to review the major progress accomplished over the last 20 years towards that aim. In addition, we would like to present another interesting possibility to access new preventive strategies based on the 'hygiene hypothesis', which proposes a causal link between the increasing incidence of autoimmune diseases, including diabetes, and the decrease of the infectious burden. The underlying rationale is to identify microbial-derived compounds mediating the protective activity of infections which could be developed therapeutically.
Cites: J Immunol. 2000 Jun 1;164(11):5683-810820244
In the last several years, West Nile virus (WNV) was proven to be present especially in the neighboring countries of Austria, such as Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, as well as in eastern parts of Austria, where it was detected in migratory and domestic birds. In summer 2010, infections with WNV were reported from Romania and northern Greece with about 150 diseased and increasingly fatal cases. We tested the sera of 1,607 blood donors from North Tyrol (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy) for antibodies against WNV by using IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Initial results of the ELISA tests showed seroprevalence rates of 46.2% in North Tyrol and 0.5% in South Tyrol, which turned out to be false-positive cross-reactions with antibodies against tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) by adjacent neutralization assays. These results indicate that seropositivity against WNV requires confirmation by neutralization assays, as cross-reactivity with TBEV is frequent and because, currently, WNV is not endemic in the study area.
The number of grown ups with congenital heart disease (GUCH) increases due to the success story of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery. However, late complications such as arrhythmia, endocarditis and heart failure are common, as are patients requiring reoperation/catheter intervention. In some categories of congenital heart disease, pregnancy may pose a substantial threat. Early information about this is essential. The care of these patients, including heart surgery, should be centralized. A registry of GUCH-patients has been created in Sweden, promoting experience and knowledge concerning a "new" and expanding group of patients in cardiology.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a disease with a remarkable racial and geographical distribution. In most parts of the world it is a rare condition and in only a handful of places does this low risk profile alter. These include the Southern Chinese, Eskimos and other Arctic natives, inhabitants of South-East Asia and also the populations of North Africa and Kuwait.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) most commonly affects individuals of Northern European descent who live in countries at high latitude. The relative contributions of ancestry, country of birth and residence as determinants of MS risk have been studied in adult MS, but have not been explored in the pediatric MS population. In this study, we compare the demographics of pediatric- and adult-onset MS patients cared for in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a multicultural region. The country of birth, residence during childhood, and ancestry were compared for 44 children and 573 adults. Our results demonstrate that although both the pediatric and adult cohorts were essentially born and raised in the same region of Ontario, Canada, children with MS were more likely to report Caribbean, Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry, and were less likely to have European heritage compared with individuals with adult-onset MS. The difference in ancestry between the pediatric and adult MS cohorts can be explained by two hypotheses: (1) individuals raised in a region of high MS prevalence, but whose ancestors originate from regions in which MS is rare, have an earlier age of MS onset, and (2) the place of residence during childhood, irrespective of ancestry, determines lifetime MS risk -- a fact that will be reflected in a change in the demographics of the adult MS cohort in our region as Canadian-raised children of recent immigrants reach the typical age of adult-onset MS.
A recent method of age-standardisation of relative survival ratios for cancer patients does not require calculation of age-specific relative survival ratios, as ratios of age-specific proportions between the standard population and study group at the beginning of the follow-up are used to substitute the original individual observations. This method, however, leads to direct age-standardisation with weights that are different for each patient group if the general population mortality patterns for the groups are different. This is the case in international comparisons, and in comparisons between genders and time periods. The magnitude of the bias caused by the differences in general population mortality is investigated for comparisons involving European countries and the USA. Patients in each country are assumed to have exactly the same age-specific relative survival ratios as those diagnosed in Finland in 1985-2004. An application of a properly functioning age-standardisation method should then give exactly equal age-standardised relative survival ratios for each country. However, the recent method shows substantial differences between countries, with highest relative survival for populations, where the general population mortality in the oldest ages is the highest. This source of error can thus be a serious limitation for the use of the method, and other methods that are available should then be employed.