An altered gut microbiota can predict diabetes

NEWS: MAY 30, 2013
Intestinal bacteria may have a greater influence on us than was previously thought. In a study published in the prestigious journal Nature on 29 May, researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy and Chalmers University of Technology show that patients with type 2 diabetes have an altered gut microbiota. Their findings have led to a new model to identify patients at increased risk of developing diabetes.
The human body contains ten times more bacteria than human cells. Most of these bacteria comprise the normal gut microbiota. Our bodies thus contain a vast number of bacterial genes in addition to the genes in our own cells, and are collectively known as the metagenome.

Gothenburg-based research

Three Swedish, Gothenburg-based research groups led by Fredrik Bäckhed and Björn Fagergberg, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Jens Nielsen of Chalmers compared the metagenome of 145 women with diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and healthy controls, and showed that women with type 2 diabetes have an altered gut microbiota.
Furthermore, healthy women have higher numbers of gut bacteria known to be producers of butyrate, a fatty acid that has previously been linked to beneficial health effects.

New and better model

On the basis of these findings, the researchers developed a new model that can distinguish between patients with type 2 diabetes and healthy women by analysis of the metagenome. This model has better predictive value than the classical predictive markers used today, such as body-mass index and waist-hip ratio.
“By examining the patient’s gut microbiota, we could predict which patients are at risk of developing diabetes. The big challenge is to find out whether the composition of the gut microbiota promotes the onset of age-related diabetes. If this is the case, this would indicate new opportunities to prevent the disease,” says Professor Fredrik Bäckhed.

The "unknown" metagenome

“In this study, we have developed new methods to analyze the metagenomic data and have been able to exploit much more of the ‘unknown’ metagenome, that is, the bacteria that have not been previously mapped,” continues Jens Nielsen, Professor of Systems Biology at Chalmers University of Technology. “The study is an excellent example of how novel technologies, developed in connection with Chalmers’ initiative in life science, can assist in analyzing large amounts of data from the clinic.”
The study Gut metagenome in European women with normal, impaired and diabetic glucose control was published in Nature on May 29.

腸内細菌は、以前考えられていたよりも、私たちに大きな影響を与える可能性がある。 5月29日上の権威誌ネイチャーに発表された研究では、Sahlgrenskaアカデミーとチャルマース工科大学の研究者らは、2型糖尿病患者は、改変された腸内細菌叢を有することを示している。彼らの発見は、糖尿病を発症するリスクが高い患者を識別するために、新しいモデルをもたらしている。 
"本研究では、メタゲノムのデータを分析するための新しい方法を開発したと、つまり、以前にマッピングされていない細菌、「不明」メタゲノムの多くを利用することができました」イェンス·ニールセン、システムの教授が続くチャルマース工科大学の生物学。 "研究では、診療所からの大量のデータを分析するのに役立つことができ、生命科学におけるチャーマーズ」イニシアティブに関連して開発されたどの新技術の優れた例です。" 

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