Gut bacteria protects against Type-1 diabetes

September 22nd, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) Mice exposed to common gut bacteria were protected against the development of Type-I diabetes, demonstrating the dramatic potential of microbes to prevent disease.The study by Yale and Chicago Universities supports ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which explains how a lack of exposure to parasites, bacteria and viruses in the developed world may lead to increased incidence of allergies, asthma, and other disorders.

The results also suggest that exposure to some forms of bacteria might actually help prevent onset of Type-I diabetes, in which the patient’s own immune system invades pancreas cells producing insulin.

In the past decade, it has become evident that the environment plays a role in the development of some overly robust immune system responses, reports Eurekalert.

For instance, people in less-developed parts of the world have a low rate of allergy, but when they move to developed countries the rate increases dramatically.

Scientists have also noted the same phenomenon in their labs. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice develop the disease at different rates after natural breeding, depending upon the environment where they are kept.

Previous research has shown that NOD mice exposed to killed (i.e., non-active) strains of tuberculosis or other disease-causing bacteria are protected against the development of Type-I diabetes.

Teams led by Li Wen at Yale and Alexander V. Chervonsk, at Chicago, showed that NOD mice deficient in innate immunity were protected from diabetes in normal conditions.

However, if they were raised in a germ-free environment, lacking “friendly” gut bacteria, the mice developed severe diabetes. NOD mice exposed to harmless bacteria normally found in the human intestine were significantly less likely to develop diabetes, they reported.

The findings were reported in Nature.

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