Scientists from the Center for Biomedical Research in Network for Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN) have discovered that the intestinal microbiota in children with type 1 diabetes is different from that of healthy children. The finding, published in the journal Diabetes Care, opens the door to the development of new therapies to control the progress of the disease by modifying the intestinal flora.
The study was led by María Isabel Queipo Ortuño and José Carlos Fernández García at the Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA) and the Endocrinology Service of the Virgen de la Victoria Hospital in Malaga.
For the study, the researchers analized the gut microbiota profile, its functional capacity, inflammation and intestinal permeability in 15 children with type 1 diabetes, 15 children with MODY2 (a type of non-autoimmune monogenic diabetes), and 13 in healthy children.
According to the results, children with type 1 diabetes showed an intestinal microbiota profile with lower diversity and a higher proportion of pro-inflammatory bacteria, explained Queipo Ortuño.
“In addition, it was associated with an alteration in the integrity of the intestinal barrier and with an increase in low-grade inflammation and autoimmune response compared with children with MODY and healthy children,” he adds.
Solution to numerous diseases
The intestinal microbiota constitutes a complex ecosystem of organisms that plays an important role in the human health. It has a digestive function and contributes to the synthesis of micronutrients, the absorption of electrolytes and minerals and the digestion and absorption of certain indigestible substances.
On the other hand, it also contributes to the destruction of toxins and carcinogens, prevents colonization by pathogenic bacteria, contributes to the development of the immune system and modulates the inflammatory state.
Without a balanced microbiota all the metabolism is altered, which increases the risk of suffering diseases, weakens the body and makes recoveries longer.
“In recent years we have been able to verify that the intestinal flora influences in the appearance of metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, inflammatory and cardiovascular pathologies and even the risk of cancer,” said Queipo Ortuño.
“We knew, therefore, the close relationship between type 2 diabetes, obesity and changes in the microbiota, but this study associates changes in human’s microbiota with type 1 diabetes,” he said.
“The most important thing for future research is to propose longitudinal studies aimed at evaluating whether the modulation of the microbiota in patients at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes is capable of modifying the natural history of this autoimmune disease,” he concluded.