Gut Flora Changes Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
A new study looked at the gut flora of diabetic patients. Chinese researchers found that those with type 2 diabetes had an abundance of “bad” bacteria.
More 'bad' bacteria and less 'good' bacteria
The researchers conducted a “metagenome-wide association study” on bacteria found in the intestines of those with type 2 diabetes. They found indicators that seem to be associated with type 2 diabetes. They also found that the same patents had an abundance of bacteria that could be potentially harmful, as well as a lack of beneficial bacteria. The results were published in the online version of the journal Nature.
Genetic markers may indicate type 2 diabetes risk
During the study, researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of nearly 350 Chinese adults both with and without type 2 diabetes. They found 60,000 genetic markers related to the disease, and hypothesized that some of these markers may be able to indicate a risk of developing type 2 diabetes before other symptoms develop.
Cause and Effect Unproven
It is still not clear whether type 2 diabetes causes the changes in gut flora, or the changes in gut flora cause type 2 diabetes. Dr. Stuart Weinerman, associate chief of the division of endocrinology at North Shore University, said:
"There's no way right now that you can say there's a cause-and-effect relationship. It could be that the patients with diabetes were treated with drugs that changed their gut flora. Or maybe they ate differently? This is an interesting hypothesis -- that gut bugs could influence diseases states -- but it's far from proven."
Researchers are calling for further study to determine the cause-and-effect relationship. Senior study author Jun Wang said, "I think our study provides many targets for disease prevention and treatment through gut microbiotia in the near future." He is the executive director of the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, China.