Autoantibody-negative insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus after SARS-CoV-2 infection: a case report.

Tim Hollstein, Dominik M Schulte, Juliane Schulz, Andreas Glück, Anette G Ziegler, Ezio Bonifacio, Mareike Wendorff, Andre Franke, Stefan Schreiber, Stefan R Bornstein, Matthias Laudes
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
Nat Metab
Journal title long:
Nature metabolism
Here we report a case where the manifestations of insulin-dependent diabetes occurred following SARS-CoV-2 infection in a young individual in the absence of autoantibodies typical for type 1 diabetes mellitus. Specifically, a 19-year-old white male presented at our emergency department with diabetic ketoacidosis, C-peptide level of 0.62 µg l-1, blood glucose concentration of 30.6 mmol l-1 (552 mg dl-1) and haemoglobin A1c of 16.8%. The patient´s case history revealed probable COVID-19 infection 5-7 weeks before admission, based on a positive test for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 proteins as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Interestingly, the patient carried a human leukocyte antigen genotype (HLA DR1-DR3-DQ2) considered to provide only a slightly elevated risk of developing autoimmune type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, as noted, no serum autoantibodies were observed against islet cells, glutamic acid decarboxylase, tyrosine phosphatase, insulin and zinc-transporter 8. Although our report cannot fully establish causality between COVID-19 and the development of diabetes in this patient, considering that SARS-CoV-2 entry receptors, including angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, are expressed on pancreatic β-cells and, given the circumstances of this case, we suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection, or COVID-19, might negatively affect pancreatic function, perhaps through direct cytolytic effects of the virus on β-cells.