Respiratory diseases in diabetes can be fatal

Respiratory diseases in diabetes can be fatal

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Diabetes aggravates respiratory diseases due to an abnormal immune response

In a new study, US researchers have shown how diabetes contributes to mortality from infections with the MERS coronavirus. The new findings could shed light on why other respiratory diseases such as the flu or pneumonia can be more serious in diabetics.

Since the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012, more than 2,400 cases of infection have been confirmed, leading to over 800 deaths - an alarming death rate of 35 percent. For this reason, US researchers have sought to identify risk factors that contribute to the development of serious or fatal diseases.

Current clinical evidence suggests that diabetes is a major risk factor alongside other concomitant diseases such as kidney, heart, and lung diseases.

Relationship between diabetes and MERS-CoV examined in a mouse model

Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have shown in a new study published in the "Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights" how diabetes leads to mortality through MERS-CoV- Infections. According to a statement, the new findings could reveal why other respiratory diseases such as flu or pneumonia could be more serious in diabetics.

The team examined the relationship between diabetes and MERS-CoV in a mouse model and found that while the virus did not replicate faster in diabetic mice compared to healthy animals, the diabetic mice showed a delayed and prolonged inflammatory response in the lungs. Diabetic mice had lower levels of inflammatory cytokines and less inflammatory macrophages and T cells. This indicates that the increased severity of MERS-CoV infection in patients with diabetes is likely due to a malfunction in the body's response to an infection.

Hope for better treatment

"It is crucial to understand how diabetes contributes to the severity of the disease after a MERS-CoV infection," said study author Dr. Matthew Frieman. "Our next step is to determine what drives the changed immune response in diabetics and how these effects can be reversed with therapeutic agents used to treat patients."

Follow-up studies could also investigate whether healthcare providers should double their efforts to control and stabilize glucose levels in diabetic patients with a dangerous respiratory infection and whether better management would help reduce the effects of these infections mitigate.

"This is an important finding for patients with diabetes and for doctors who treat them," said Dean E. Albert Reece of UMSOM. “We have known for a long time that diabetics have worse results with serious infectious diseases. However, these new insights into immune function could pave the way for better treatments. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University of Maryland School of Medicine: Diabetes Worsens Respiratory Illness Due to Abnormal Immune Response, UM School of Medicine Study Finds, (accessed: October 21, 2019), University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights: Comorbid diabetes results in immune dysregulation and enhanced disease severity following MERS-CoV infection, (accessed: October 21, 2019), Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights

Video: Diabetes mellitus - Symptoms, Complication, Pathology of Type 1 and Type 2, Animation (August 2022).