Gut Bacteria, Viruses Likely to Rise Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Wed Jul 10 2024
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LONDON: Out of about 530 million adults living with diabetes across the world, approximately 98% have type 2 diabetes as new research suggests that it may rise due to certain gut bacteria and viruses.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, which is crucial for properly processing blood glucose. As a result, blood sugar levels remain elevated due to this insulin resistance.

While various factors, including age, influence the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, scientists are now investigating the role of the gut microbiome in increasing this risk. For their study, researchers analyzed data from the Microbiome and Cardiometabolic Disease Consortium (MicroCardio), which included 8,117 gut microbiome metagenomes from ethnically and geographically diverse participants in the US, China, Israel, and Germany.

“Research over the last decade has linked changes in the gut microbiome to the development of type 2 diabetes, but earlier studies have been too small and varied in design to provide solid conclusions,” said Daniel (Dong) Wang, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and co-corresponding author of this study. He told Medical News Today, “There’s still a significant gap in understanding the mechanisms, especially the biological pathways encoded by specific microbial strains, that underlie the connection between the gut microbiome and type 2 diabetes.”

Wang and his team identified several microbial species and their functions within the gut microbiome that are linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. Notably, they found a strain of the gut microbe Prevotella copri (P. copri) that produces large amounts of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and is more commonly present in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, they discovered evidence suggesting that bacteriophages—viruses that only infect bacterial cells—might drive changes in specific bacterial strains in the gut microbiome, thereby increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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