Scientists identify new species of gut bacteria linked to diabetes risk

Fri, 17 Aug 2012
A new study has discovered over 20 new species of bacteria in the human gut that may be linked to obesity and related metabolic complications which significantly increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The research, carried out by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, identified 26 species of bacteria that were associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome traits such as insulin resistance, high body mass index (BMI), high blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure, and larger amounts of C-reactive protein in the blood.

Senior author, Professor Claire M Fraser, PhD, said: "We can't infer cause and effect, but it's an important step forward that we�re starting to identify bacteria that are correlated with clinical parameters, which suggests that the gut microbiota could one day be targeted with medication, diet or lifestyle changes."

She added that the high levels of C-reactive protein indicated an apparent link between the gut bacteria and inflammation, which is believed to be a factor in obesity and many other chronic diseases .

The findings, which are published online in PLOS ONE, were based on analysis of bacteria samples of 310 lean, overweight and obese members of the Old Order Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Some of the obese participants also had certain features of metabolic syndrome.

Dr Alan R. Shuldiner, associate dean for personalized medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: "We believe the results of this study are relevant to a broader population because the clinical characteristics of obesity and its complications in the Amish are no different from the general Caucasian population."

Dr Fraser said the next step is to carry out further research, including an interventional study with the Amish, in order to examine whether the 26 bacterial species "change over time in a given individual or in response to diet or keywordmedication".
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