A decrease in Probiotic Bacteria linked to kids’ type 1 diabetes risk

February 12, 2015

A decrease in Probiotic Bacteria linked to kids’ type 1 diabetes risk

     In some young children who develop type 1 diabetes a change in normal stomach bacteria was detected a year before disease development. Dr Aleksanar Kostic, a postdoctoral fellow of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT studied 33 children who had an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is often linked to older age and obesity. In type 1 diabetes the immune system mistakenly kills of the cells in the pancreas that release insulin (the hormone that lowers sugar levels in the blood). Because of this people with type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin for the rest of their lives to survive. About 3 million Americans have type 1 diabetes.

By age 3, four of the children had developed type 1 diabetes. Those children showed a clear change in their intestinal bacterial populations about one year before the onset of the disease. There were huge alterations with a drop in the diversity of intestinal bacteria. The decline in the natural diversity opens the door for some really bad players to take control. In this case the friendly flora (probiotics) died in number and bacteria that trigger inflammation took over.

     JDRF funded the study (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International). Jessica Dunne, Ph. D., director of discovery for JDRF states “We’re still a long way off from a therapy,” but added, researchers are already interested in whether a “probiotic” supplement as therapy might help prevent or delay type 1 diabetes in children at increased risk. Probiotics are health providing, live bacteria like those found naturally in the human body. The study is published in the February 5th, 2015 issue of the journal Cell, Host and Microbe.