Scientists discover how gut bacteria could one day help prevent type 1 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on August 10, 2015

Bacteria in the gut may have a role to play in the prevention of type 1 diabetes, according to new research which is described as being at a ‘preliminary state’.

Nevertheless, scientists believe that their discovery that a group of antimicrobial peptides called cathelicidins are not produced in the pancreas of mice with diabetes is significant.

081015-bacteriaMice without diabetes, however, do produce cathelicidins and the researchers at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in France found that injecting cathelicidins inhibits the development of pancreatic inflammation and, as such, suppressed the development of autoimmune disease in these mice.

Julien Diana, a researcher at INSERM, explained that cathelicidins are produced thanks to short chain fatty acids in the gut bacteria. Teams from France, China and Sweden worked on the research which involved moving gut bacteria of non-diabetic mice into the diabetic mice and discovered that the fatty acids began to produce cathelicidin in the diabetic mice.

Previous research has suggested that the mechanisms work similarly in humans. In theory, then, the findings could provide new and effective treatments for type 1 diabetes. However, the research needs to be tested further as it is currently at a preliminary stage.

‘This research is further evidence of the undeniable role microbiota plays in autoimmune diseases, particularly in controlling the development of autoimmune diabetes,’ said Diana.

Given that the production of cathelicidins is controlled by short chain fatty acids produced by gut bacteria, the teams are studying the possibility that this may be the cause of the cathelicidin deficiency associated with diabetes.

They point out that by transferring part of the gut bacteria from healthy mice to diabetic mice, they are re-establishing a normal level of cathelicidin. Meanwhile, the transfer of micro-organisms reduces the occurrence of diabetes.

‘This research is further evidence of the undeniable role microbiota plays in autoimmune diseases, particularly in controlling the development of autoimmune diabetes,’ the research report concludes, adding that further research could lead to new therapies against autoimmune diabetes.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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