Prolonged use of antibiotics can accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes by disrupting gut bacteria, according to new research.
Scientists at the University of British Columbia demonstrated that mice that were susceptible to diabetes had more harmful and less beneficial bacteria than those not at risk of the condition.
They report that long-term and over-use of antibiotics disrupts these bacteria and plays a role in the development of type 1 diabetes.
Antibiotics exposure
In their study of non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, published in Nature Group’s ISME Journal, the researchers conducted two manipulations of gut microbes.
In the first experiment, they transplanted NOD microbes into non-obese resistant (NOR) mice. This induced insulitis in the NOR mice, suggesting that the NOD microbiome is capable of producing diabetes.
In the second experiment, the researchers exposed the mice to antibiotics and evaluated their intestinal microbiota. They discovered that the antibiotics led to accelerated diabetes onset and increased T-helper type 1 (Th1) and reduced Th17 cells in the intestinal lymphoid tissues.
In other words, the harmful bacteria generated an immune response which led to the stimulated destruction of insulin-producing cells.
“We were able to establish a clear relationship between bacteria, the body’s immune reaction and the development of type 1 diabetes,” said senior author Professor Deanna Gibson.
“This is likely to have significant implications for treatment of the disease. The next steps are to narrow-in and identify which bacteria induce or perhaps protect against type 1 diabetes. This, in turn, could help with the production of more specific antibiotics.”
Role of bacteria
The researchers concluded that bacteria has a significant role within the development of type 1 diabetes, and antibiotic use can alter the normal development of the gut and affect people’s health.
“While it’s clear that antibiotics are very useful in medicine, overusing them can have significant consequences,” added Gibson.
Earlier this month, another study highlighted the danger of increased antibiotic consumption. Scientists at Athens University Medical School warned that young children who are given antibiotics are more likely to develop prediabetes in adolescence, and urged that antibiotics should be administered only when really necessary.

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