In a study from Cedars-Sinai, scientists found one type of bacteria found in the gut may contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes, while another may protect from the disease.
They found people with higher levels of a bacterium called Coprococcus tended to have higher insulin sensitivity, while those whose microbiomes had higher levels of the bacterium Flavonifractor tended to have lower insulin sensitivity.
Researchers have sought to understand why people develop diabetes by studying the composition of the microbiome, which is a collection of microorganisms that include fungi, bacteria and viruses that live in the digestive tract.
The microbiome is thought to be affected by medications and diet.
Studies have also found that people who don’t process insulin properly have lower levels of a certain type of bacteria that produce a type of fatty acid called butyrate.
In the study, the team examined people at risk for diabetes to learn whether those with lower levels of these bacteria develop the disease.
They analyzed data from 352 people without known diabetes who were recruited from the Wake Forest Baptist Health System in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Study participants were asked to attend three clinic visits and collect stool samples prior to the visits.
The team conducted genetic sequencing on the stool samples, for example, to study the participants’ microbiomes, and specifically look for bacteria that earlier studies have found to be linked to insulin resistance.
Each participant also filled out a diet questionnaire and took an oral glucose tolerance test, which was used to determine ability to process glucose.
The team found 28 people had oral glucose tolerance results that met the criteria for diabetes.
They also found that 135 people had prediabetes, a condition in which a person’s blood-sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to meet the definition of diabetes.
The research team analyzed associations between 36 butyrate-producing bacteria found in the stool samples and a person’s ability to maintain normal levels of insulin.
They found Coprococcus and related bacteria formed a network of bacteria with beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity.
Despite being a producer of butyrate, Flavonifractor was linked to insulin resistance; prior work by others have found higher levels of Flavonifractor in the stool of people with diabetes.
The researchers are continuing to study samples from patients who participated in this study to learn how insulin production and the composition of the microbiome change over time.
They also plan to study how diet may affect the bacterial balance of the microbiome.
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For more information about health, please see recent studies that vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one third.
The study was conducted by Mark Goodarzi et al and published in Diabetes.
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