Diabetes is one of the most widespread diseases in the world today. More and more people are being diagnosed with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Many believe that only the prevention of the latter is possible whereas type 1 diabetes can only be managed and not avoided.
A new study has explored this point to see what can be done to prevent type 1 diabetes. The results of the research were published in the journal Microbiome.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia have suggested that targeting specific gut bacteria may help in the prevention type 1 diabetes in their new study after discovering significant alterations in the microbiota of rodents and people who have a risk of developing the health condition.
In addition, the researchers also found that these alterations were mostly due to genetic factors that increase the chances of type 1 diabetes as well as changes in the immune system of the patient.
The co-author of the study Dr. Emma Hamilton-Williams from the Translational Research Institute at the University of Queensland and the team says that the results of the study suggest that treating the gut bacteria may be an effective prevention technique for diabetes type 1.
In type 1 diabetes, the body and the immune system starts destroying the cells that are responsible for the production of insulin in the pancreas or beta cells mistakenly. The body then starts lacking insulin levels which then leads to a rise in blood-sugar levels as a result.
Five percent of all the patients with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The onset of the health condition is typically seen in young adulthood, childhood, and adolescence.
The actual cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown by the researchers but it has been seen that people with specific genetic variants can be at a higher risk of developing the disease than others.
The chances of having the health condition are higher in people who have the variants of human leukocyte antigen complex such as the HLA-DRB1, HLA-DQA1, and HLA-DQB1. These also have a major impact on the immune system in the body.
Studies have also shown that alterations in the gut bacteria or gut microbiota may lead to the development of type 1 diabetes but the researchers are not clear why the changes appear in the first place.
Dr. Hamilton-Williams and the team say that alterations in the gut bacteria may be due to genetic susceptibility or due to other factors.
The team assessed the non-obese mouse models that were at a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes as well as their microbiota to know whether they were different from the mice that were safe from diabetes. Did genetic susceptibility have a role?
It was found that the mice that had a genetic susceptibility to type 1 diabetes had significant changes in their gut microbiota composition. There was a particular reduction in Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcus, and Clostridiales bacteria.
The researchers discovered that these differences were linked with changes in the immune system and not with genetic susceptibility. They also saw that using immunotherapy to target T cells, which are a type of white blood cells, caused notable changes in the microbiota of the rodents.
Dr. Hamilton-Williams and colleagues were able to confirm their results in a study of humans, who were also a part of TwinsUK cohort, with genetic variants linked to diabetes type 1 in a similar way.
The team further plans to conduct clinical trials of immunotherapies for type 1 diabetes to know whether it leads to changes in gut bacteria.
If it happens, the researchers claim that it may be possible to prevent type 1 diabetes by restoring the important bacteria in the gut.