Two research groups have presented findings demonstrating that people with type 2 diabetes or obesity have changes in their intestinal micro-organisms. The research of one group was presented at the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society, ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago and confirms previous studies. The human gut harbors an estimated 10 trillion to 100 trillion bacteria and other microscopic organisms, with each person housing at least 160 different species of organisms. Some researchers hypothesize that this community of microbes in the human gut contributes to the onset of low-grade inflammation, which in turn may affect body weight and glucose (sugar) metabolism.
“The gut microbiota may be used as an important marker to determine the risk of these metabolic diseases, obesity and diabetes, or it may become a therapeutic target to treat them,” Yalcin Basaran, MD, an endocrinologist from Gulhane Military Medical Academy School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey said.
Basaran specifically investigated the relationship between gut microbe composition and obesity and type 2 diabetes. Their study included 27 severely obese adults, 26 type 2 diabetes patients and 28 healthy control subjects.
Fecal analysis of the research participants confirmed that several of the most common types of bacteria in the gut were present at considerably lower levels in the obese and diabetic groups, compared with healthy controls. These reductions ranged from 4.2 to 12.5 percent in the obese patients and 10 to 11.5 percent in the diabetic patients, Basaran reported.
There was also a differentiation of gut species based on metabolic variables. BMI, a measure of weight and height, and hemoglobin A1c, a measure of blood sugar control over the past three months, influenced levels of the most common gut bacterial species, Firmicutes. Waist circumference, a measure of abdominal fat, and hemoglobin A1c affected levels of another bacterial species: Bifidobacteria, a type of Actinobacteria. Finally, both weight and fasting blood glucose level influenced levels of a third species, Clostridium leptum.
“Further studies should be carried out to elucidate if the gut microbial changes are a cause or effect of metabolic diseases,” Basaran said. “Manipulation of intestinal bacteria could offer a new approach to manage obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”
Another study published in the Nature journal by researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, reveals that patients with type 2 diabetes have an altered gut microbiota. Their findings have led to a new model to identify patients at increased risk of developing diabetes.
Three Swedish, Gothenburg-based research groups compared the metagenome of 145 women with diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and healthy controls, and showed that women with type 2 diabetes have an altered gut microbiota. Healthy women have higher numbers of gut bacteria known to be producers of butyrate, a fatty acid that has previously been linked to beneficial health effect.
“By examining the patient’s gut microbiota, we could predict which patients are at risk of developing diabetes. The big challenge is to find out whether the composition of the gut microbiota promotes the onset of age-related diabetes. If this is the case, this would indicate new opportunities to prevent the disease,” said Professor Fredrik Bäckhed.
The study led to a new novel technique of predicting type 2 diabetes.
Endocrine Society. “Gut microbe levels are linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2014.
Fredrik H. Karlsson, Valentina Tremaroli, Intawat Nookaew, Göran Bergström, Carl Johan Behre, Björn Fagerberg, Jens Nielsen, Fredrik Bäckhed. Gut metagenome in European women with normal, impaired and diabetic glucose control. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12198