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Russian scientists describe changes in intestinal microflora typical of diabetes

December 15, 2015, 19:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The findings bring them one step closer to understanding the reciprocal cause-and-effect relationship between the change in the proportion of certain types of bacteria, metabolic disorders, and diet
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. A group of Russian scientists, including specialists from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), has discovered that the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may be linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, MIPT said in a media release on Tuesday.

The scientists analyzed the gut microbiota composition in 92 patients, including 20 patients with type 2 diabetes and 48 healthy people without any chronic diseases. Other 24 people showed signs of a metabolic disorder which doctors had diagnosed as prediabetes — a condition that can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes over time. The glucose level, which is the most important metabolic indicator, was also monitored in the test people’s blood.

Gut microbiota is the name given to the entire population of microorganisms living in the intestines. After comparing the composition of the microbiome with the diagnosis (diabetes/prediabetes/normal glucose tolerance) and the diet of test people, the scientists came to a number of conclusions.

Most importantly, the researchers were able to link the level of glucose intolerance with the presence of three specific types of microbiota: Blautia, Serratia, and Akkermansia bacteria. "They are all found in healthy people, but in cases of prediabetes and diabetes their number significantly grow," MIPT said.

The researchers were able to link increased levels of bifidobacteria (they are most commonly found in the intestines of breast-fed infants and they are considered to be one of the most important components of microbiota) to a high intake of dietary fiber, or roughage. This corresponds with the results of a previous study of gut microbiota in urban and rural populations in Russia, which involved the same group of researchers. This study has found that people living in rural areas of the Tyva Region, Siberia, had much higher levels of bifidobacteria than residents of other regions presumably due to the fact that the diet of the rural population was based more on natural products and the proportion of "industrial" food with a low fiber content, in contrast, was relatively small.

These findings bring scientists and medical professionals one step closer to understanding the complex reciprocal cause-and-effect relationship between the change in the proportion of certain types of bacteria, metabolic disorders, and diet. According to researchers, one of the possible ways that microbes affect diabetes could be by provoking an immune response. The results were recently published in the journal ‘Endocrinology Connections’.

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