Study links 'hygiene hypothesis' to diabetes prevention

Oct 06, 2008

A research study funded by JDRF suggests that a common intestinal bacteria may provide some protection from developing type 1 diabetes. The findings provide an important step towards understanding how and why type 1 diabetes develops in people, and may lead to potential cures.

The study, reported this week in Nature Magazine, lends further support to the "hygiene hypothesis," that exposure to an appropriate amount and composition of bacteria may be important to living a healthy life, and that susceptibility to type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders may actually be caused by a lack of exposure to certain parasites and microbes.

In the study, researchers at Yale University and the University of Chicago found that exposure to certain bacteria will trigger an immune system response in mice. That response is believed to be what prevents autoimmune disorders -- conditions where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, stopping a person's ability to detect glucose and produce insulin. For the purposes of the study, the bacteria used were harmless microbes typically found in the human intestine. The scientists suggest that safe, measured exposure to certain bacteria may lower the risk of immune disorders.

"This study outcome gives us a new avenue to explore", said JDRF Executive Vice President of Research, Richard A. Insel, MD. "And, with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. and many countries around the world at about a 3% annual rate, every lead is significant. The research gives impetus to better understanding how the bacterial flora in our body influences host immune defenses and responses that provide resistance to the development of type 1 diabetes. This understanding may provide new therapeutic approaches to prevention."

For the study, teams led by Li Wen at Yale and Alexander V. Chervonsky at the University of Chicago used mice that under normal conditions, would not develop diabetes. If raised in a germ-free environment, however, the mice developed diabetes. But mice that were exposed to common intestinal bacteria maintained a lower risk for the disease.

Source: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

Explore further: Liberia closes borders and steps up Ebola screening

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protons power protein portal to push zinc out of cells

Jun 22, 2014

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University report they have deciphered the inner workings of a protein called YiiP that prevents the lethal buildup of zinc inside bacteria. They say understanding YiiP's ...

Children's gut bacteria linked to type 1 diabetes

Jul 13, 2010

University of Florida researchers have found that the variety of bacteria in a child’s digestive tract is strongly linked to whether that child develops type 1 diabetes. The connection could eventually give doctors an early ...

Eradicating dangerous bacteria may cause permanent harm

Aug 24, 2011

In the zeal to eliminate dangerous bacteria, it is possible that we are also permanently killing off beneficial bacteria as well, posits Martin Blaser, MD, Frederick H. King Professor of Medicine, professor of Microbiology ...

Recommended for you

5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in W. Africa

2 hours ago

(AP)—There has been panic and fear about the deadly Ebola disease spreading ever since Nigerian health officials reported Friday that a Liberian man sick with the disease had traveled to Togo and then Nigeria ...

Scissoring the lipids

4 hours ago

A new strategy which enables molecules to be disconnected essentially anywhere, even remote from functionality, is described by researchers from the University of Bristol in Nature Chemistry today. The method is now being ...

User comments : 0