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article imageBacteria linked to type 2 diabetes

By Tim Sandle     Jun 17, 2015 in Health
A new research study suggests that bacteria may have a role in whether a person develops type 2 diabetes. At this stage, the finding is based on an animal model.
The newly proposed theory is that exposure in the body to a toxin released by Staphylococcus aureus can trigger the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. These symptoms are: insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and systemic inflammation. This has been shown in studies on rabbits.
The type of toxin is called a superantigen. These are released as part of the bacterial defense mechanism against the body’s immune system.
To trigger the symptoms of diabetes the rabbit needed to be exposed to high levels of the bacterial toxin. The reason that researchers think the bacteria may be linked to diabetes, is that through obesity the composition of the bacteria found in the human gut alters (the microbiome of the intestines).
It seems that as people put on weight, the rate of growth (or ‘colonization’) by Staphylococcus bacteria increases. This may cause a disruption of the immune system through the production of the toxin. Diabetes is connected to inflammation and alterations to the way that the immune system functions.
At this stage, the research is not conclusive and further explorations are needed in this area. Nonetheless, the direction is interesting and it may not only be lifestyle factors that are responsible for the rise of type 2 diabetes in the general population. Furthermore, whether this could lead to a treatment is uncertain given the ubiquity of Staphylococcus in the general environment.
The study was undertaken at UI Carver College of Medicine. The findings have been published in the journal mBio, in a paper titled “Superantigen Exposure Induces Systemic Inflammation, Elevated Bloodstream Endotoxin, and Abnormal Glucose Tolerance in Rabbits: Possible Role in Diabetes.”
More about Diabetes, type 2 diabetes, Bacteria, inflammation
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