Swedish researchers have found further evidence that gut bacteria can play an important role in the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
The study, which was conducted at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, found that gut bacteria is responsible for the body’s production of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects the body from a number of diseases.
“Gut microbiota regulates your glutathione and amino acid metabolism – not only in the small intestine but also in the liver and the colon,” said Adil Mardinogly, a systems biology researchers at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
The small intestine contains more than 1,000 different species of bacteria, some of which consume glycine, an amino acid that helps the body synthesise glutathione. When the researchers examined mice that were engineered not to have bacteria, they found lower levels of glycine in the liver and the colon.
Lower levels of glycine are linked to type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and other metabolic disorders. Fully understanding the role of microbial amino acids in the gastrointestinal tract could lead to preventative developments against type 2 diabetes, such as probiotic food products.
“The link between gut bacteria and glutathione metabolism could lead to the development of food products that can deliver beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, to the gut. These results can be used to understand how bacteria play a role in the metabolic processes involved in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as malnutrition.”
The findings are published in Molecular Systems Biology.

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