Research shows the important role of gut bacteria in preventing and treating type 1 diabetes
Scientists have discovered new evidence of the importance of gut bacteria in terms of averting and treating conditions such as type 1 diabetes.
It is already known, namely that certain common variants of HLA/MHC genes protect against a range of autoimmune diseases, particularly type 1 diabetes. Yet how these genes and the tiny cell proteins they regulate yield their immune modulating effects has remained shrouded in mystery.
Now, a study in mice led by scientists at Harvard Medical School reveals that at least one of these genes has a protective influence that is powerfully shaped by the trillions of intestinal bacteria collectively known as the gut microbiota.
In the study, researchers worked with mice bred to spontaneously develop diabetes, the classic animal model for studying the disease. However, this particular group was also bred to carry a protective gene variant shown in earlier studies to ward off type 1 diabetes despite the animals’ heavy predisposition to the disease.
When treated with antibiotics in the first six weeks of life, mice went on to develop pancreatic inflammation, a precursor to type 1 diabetes, despite carrying the guardian gene. Treatment with antibiotics later in life, between six and 10 weeks after birth, did not lead to loss of protection against diabetes.
The observation suggests a period during which the new born gut is seeded by various germs, the researchers say. Interfering with that process by administering antibiotics appears to disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota, which in turn leads to loss of genetic protection, the researcher Continue reading