June 4, 2013
Changes In Gut Bacteria Can Indicate Type 2 Diabetes
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Patients who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes have altered gut microbiota, a team of experts from the University of Gothenburg´s Sahlgrenska Academy and Chalmers University of Technology have discovered.
The scientists said that the human body contains ten times more bacteria than human cells, and that most of those are found in the normal gut microbiota. Those bacteria and other microorganisms make up what is collectively known as the metagenome — a collection of all the genetic material in an environmental sample.
The researchers split into three groups to compare the metagenome of 145 women with diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and healthy controls. They found that women with type 2 diabetes have experienced changes to the populations of microorganisms living inside their digestive system.
A report of their discovery, which was detailed in the May 29 edition of the journal Nature, have resulted in a new model that can be used to identify individuals at risk of developing diabetes, the study authors said.
“On the basis of these findings, the researchers developed a new model that can distinguish between patients with type 2 diabetes and healthy women by analysis of the metagenome,” they explained. “This model has better predictive value than the classical predictive markers used today, such as body-mass index and waist-hip ratio.”
“By examining the patient's gut microbiota, we could predict which patients are at risk of developing diabetes,” Professor Fredrik BÃ¤ckhed of the Sahlgrenska Academy noted in a statement. “The big challenge is to find out whether the composition of the gut microbiota promotes the onset of age-related diabetes. If this is the case, this would indicate new opportunities to prevent the disease.”
In addition, BÃ¤ckhed and his colleagues discovered that healthy women typically have higher amounts of gut bacteria known to produce butyrate, a fatty acid which has been linked to good health in previous studies.
“In this study, we have developed new methods to analyze the metagenomic data and have been able to exploit much more of the 'unknown' metagenome, that is, the bacteria that have not been previously mapped,” said Jens Nielsen, Professor of Systems Biology at Chalmers University of Technology.
“The study is an excellent example of how novel technologies, developed in connection with Chalmers' initiative in life science, can assist in analyzing large amounts of data from the clinic,” he added.