A new study, published in the journal Diabetes, has once again demonstrated the impact of gut bacteria on our overall health and found that children with type 1 diabetes have a different gut microbiota than children who are healthy. The changes take place before they are detected in the blood through an autoimmune response and are attributed to the microbial DNA. Colonies of bacteria congregate to form what is known as the microbiome, which acts as a central regulator to influence the host organism. Previous research has associated the microbiome with different diseases; the gut microbiome, in particular, is thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich compared the composition and interaction of the gut microbiota in children who went on to develop diabetes-specific autoantibodies in their blood with data from children who were autoantibody negative.
The bacterial metabolic pathway and their interaction in the gut varied significantly in the two groups before one group developed the typical diabetes autoantibodies. The changes could be traced back to the first months of life.
Professor Ziegler, the lead study author commented on the epigenetic influence and their impact on gut bacteria as follows:
“A range of external factors such as diet, hygiene or even the birth delivery mode can influence both the composition of gut bacteria and the way in which the bacteria interact. If we are able to identify those parameters that tend to indicate more negative microbiome characteristics, we can develop new approaches to preventing autoimmune processes — for example, in type 1 diabetes.”
Endesfelder, D. et al. Compromised gut microbiota networks in children with anti-islet cell autoimmunity, Diabetes. Diabetes, March 2014 DOI: 10.2337/db13-1676 1939-327X