A new study offers more evidence that there might be a connection between gut health and type 1 diabetes.
The research, published this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, shows that certain gut bacteria may cause inflammation in people with type 1 diabetes.
It also suggests that there might be a relationship between gut bacteria promoting inflammation and the immune system.
A team of researchers from San Raffaele Hospital in Italy measured changes in the type and number of gut bacteria present in the intestinal lining of 54 participants, some of whom had type 1 diabetes.
In parallel to that, the researchers looked at their levels of markers of inflammation and tried to see whether there was a strong association with gut bacteria composition.
All participants had a similar diet when samples were take, which is important, as changes to the diet. have been shown to affect the gut bacteria forming the microbiome.
Endoscopies and biopsies of the first section of the intestine were performed to assess changes in the gut. These methods are thought to be much more reliable than stool samples, which are also commonly used in microbiome research.
The results showed that those with type 1 diabetes had a very distinct combination of gut bacteria that was different from both the control group and other participants with celiac disease.
When expression levels of gut microbiome genes, which served as markers of inflammation in this study, were analysed, researchers found that ten pro-inflammatory genes were expressed significantly more in those with type 1 diabetes.
No correlation was however found between this particular gut gene expression and HbA1c, duration of type 1 diabetes, or its complications. Researchers haven’t looked at C-peptide or autoimmune markers in this study.
It has long been theorized that the gut may contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes. This new study adds evidence to support that theory, by showing a possible intestinal inflammatory signature that characterises type 1 diabetes.
But, the question of whether the changes in the gut are caused by type 1 diabetes, or vice versa, remains unanswered.
Further studies are needed to understand how type 1 diabetes affects the digestive system and microbiome. If a particular trend is found, this could lead to treatments aiming at modifying gut bacteria composition.

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