Type 1 Diabetes and Coronavirus

Blood Sugar Levels and Coronavirus

My name is Pete, I am a person with T1D, an interest in staying healthy and elevating some thought-provoking hypotheses around us diabetics and how diabetes intersects with Coronavirus. 

Sugars are essential for life.  Among the most important are glycoproteins, because they are sugars that attach to proteins, support the immune system, lubricate cell membranes, and stimulate the thyroid. Most proteins don’t function without sugar attached to them.

You may have heard of (the antimalarial drug) hydroxychloroquine as it is thought promising as a treatment for COVID-19.  It turns out that hydroxychloroquine might be able to lower blood sugar levels like metformin. There have also been reports of high blood sugar in COVID-19 patients.

This information led Professor Adam Brufsky (University of Pittsburgh) to examine how COVID-19 may interact with blood sugar.

Some key points from Prof Brufsky’s research:

  • The virus needs sugar molecules bound to proteins to work properly
  • Concentration of sugar (may) influence infection severity
  • Hydroxychloroquine may block sugar from getting to proteins (please don’t eat your household Hydroxychloroquine supplies)

There are many ‘mights’ and ‘maybes’ in this article and the studies mentioned are single centre and not peer reviewed.  So these musings are just that.  Still important because hypothesis generations are what science and research is built on and how we will get to a treatment and a vaccine.

As a person with T1D, my interest in sugars grows the more research I read and the more I become aware of the impacts of foods on my body and mind.  We’re lucky as T1D’s as we get to explore these relationships more closely than most people without diabetes.

The article by Prof Brufsky can be found here, published by The Conversation.

I would love to hear about your relationship with sugar and if you have any interesting theories about the relationship between diabetes and COVID-19. 

Note: this information does not contradict the previous article we blogged about.  Stating that “there is no certain evidence that people with Type 1 Diabetes are more susceptible to contracting the virus”.  The research is growing, and we are learning more and the intersections between T1D, T2D, the elderly and other potentially immunocompromised cohorts have not been understood well enough with respect to Coronavirus.  My personal attitude is that as a person with T1D my overall health outcomes are a bit worse, all things being equal.  So, I do keep that in the back of my mind.  Although I certainly don’t let it rule my world.

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