Diabetes Linked to Invading Bacteria
Metabolic syndrome is the term for a group of factors that raise an individual’s risk for life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The risk factors include a large waistline, high triglyceride level (a type of fat found in the blood), low HDL cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.
Alterations in the gut microbiome have been associated with metabolic syndrome, but if/how these changes cause diabetes is currently unknown.
Research in mice has suggested that the bacteria in the gut might be getting too close to the delicate cells lining the colon and cause inflammation, which drives the development of metabolic disease.
Normally the lining of the gut is protected by a thick layer of mucus (slime) that keeps the bacteria there at arms length. This way the bacteria can do their helpful job (like making short chain fatty acids, vitamins etc.) without activating the body’s immune response and we can coexist in harmony.
Now, in a study published in the journal CMGH, a group of researchers from Georgia State University has shown that gut bacteria in diabetic adults are also too close to the delicate lining of the colon- just like in mice!
An interesting observation made in the study is that bacteria getting too close to the gut lining in diabetic patients is associated with an increased number of immune cells (B-cells), which may be involved in protecting the cell lining from the bacteria.
The study is exciting because it confirms that the microbiome defects observed in mice are also seen in humans.
The researchers are now working on follow-up studies to figure out the identity of the bacteria, ways to stop them getting too close and/or treat the condition.