Diversity of gut bacteria tied to metabolic function in type 2 diabetes

Camille Bienvenu
Mon, 27 Mar 2017
Diversity of gut bacteria tied to metabolic function in type 2 diabetes
A new study has found that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) may aid treatments of type 2 diabetes by improving metabolic function in a number of ways.

Researchers at Taichung Veterans General Hospital, in Taiwan, suggest that a diverse gut microbial community can have interesting blood-sugar lowering properties.

Previous research noted that it might help the body produce short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to regulate appetite and blood sugar levels.

Japanese experts also released a paper in 2014 showing that Japanese with type 2 diabetes had a different gut microbiome composition than their healthy counterparts.

Furthermore, University of Minnesota researchers have put forward that a lower level of gut bacterial diversity was associated with impaired digestion and decreased insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

It's not clear why some people have fewer and less diverse gut bacteria, but it may have to do with diet, genetic variations, exposure to antimicrobial agents or other factors.

The Taiwanese researchers are testing in animals whether the gut microbiome can be modified through fecal bacteria transfers from healthy donors to reflect adjusted levels of microbial diversity.

Using this approach gives people very large quantities of bacteria species and strains that are well-suited to life in the human body to reset their own microbiome.

The FMT has been previously successfully assessed in clinical trials as a way to treat patients with recurrent clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections causing intractable diarrhea.

Researchers are still in the early stages of being able to do this effectively to treat other conditions than C. diff, as it is very hard to change someone's microbiome.

Moving an entire community of microbes from one person to another is similar to an ecosystem transplant, with all the complex manipulations and complications that it entails.

Many questions are still unanswered about fecal transplants, such as how they interact with the recipient's genes, immune system, and microbes already native to the body.

There is compelling evidence for the role of the microbiome in type 2 diabetes, and an increasing number of studies hint at fecal transplants as a way to maintain a greater diversity of gut bacteria and the health-promoting effects derived from it.
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