In the course of the corona pandemic, it became clear that diabetes means an increased risk of a serious disease course with Covid-19. Scientists have now found that there is also a reverse connection. According to studies, a severe Covid 19 disease could be the trigger for diabetes. According to the data, an average of around 15 percent of Covid 19 patients in the hospital have developed newly diagnosed diabetes.

Coronaviruses can disrupt insulin production

The international research team was able to show in their study that the coronavirus can actually infect cells of the pancreas. The scientists report on this in the journal “Cell Metabolism”. The affected beta cells are responsible for producing the hormone insulin. Insulin plays a vital role in keeping blood sugar levels in balance by stimulating other cells to take up sugar from the blood. In diabetics, the production of insulin is disturbed, so additional insulin must be injected.

Researchers are making it difficult for the coronavirus to enter the cell

Seven deceased Covid patients from a clinic in Basel were examined for the study. Coronaviruses were discovered in tissue samples from their beta cells. According to the researchers, it was surprising that the affected cells contained only a few ACE-2 receptors. Surprising because the coronavirus normally uses these receptors to get into a cell and ultimately damage it. Instead of ACE-2, however, the researchers discovered neuropilin-1 receptors on the beta cells. As a result, the researchers found that the entry of the coronavirus into the cell could be made significantly more difficult by inhibiting Neuropilin-1. This could be a possible approach to protect the cells in the event of a corona infection and ultimately prevent diabetes.

Do infected cells recover after recovery?

What beyond that, however, still seems completely unclear is the question of whether the beta cells in infected patients can recover after recovery. According to the current study situation, this cannot yet be said, said Matthias Matter from the University of Basel, which is involved in the research. In some long-covid patients, diabetes can also be determined weeks to months after the infection. It is therefore important to investigate whether patients can be protected from this consequence by administering neuropilin-1 inhibitors.

(BRISANT / dpa / mdr know / dlf)