March 26, 2013

Cleanliness May Explain Rise in T1D


hygieneThe hygiene hypothesis says that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents increases susceptibility to some diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system. A new study provides good reason to consider the role of hygiene hypothesis in autoimmune diseases like T1D.

The findings suggest that the unexplained global rise in T1D may be linked to reduced exposure to pathogens in early life. T1D is an autoimmune disease. All autoimmune diseases are arguably a defect in the immune system.

Using data from the World Health Organization (WHO) researchers investigated whether markers of infectious disease could be linked to the local incidence of T1D. The researchers cross referenced incidence of T1D and antibiotic used to treat the infectious diseases in the regions.

T1D rates were highest in countries with low death rates from infectious disease. This was true for total death rates from infectious disease. They also found T1D rates are significantly associated with the local susceptibility of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.

This study suggests that there may be an association between T1D rates and infectious disease. It is possible that the increasing global incidence of T1D may be linked to lack of exposure to pathogens during early life.

Although the data in this study is compelling, the association is not definitive. Further studies must be conducted to support the hygiene hypothesis in the exposure to specific antigens and the rate of T1D.  Coronado Biosciences is investigating treatments based on this hypothesis to safely build the immunity necessary to prevent the development of T1D and other autoimmune diseases.

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