Gut Changes and Type 1 Diabetes

How’s your tummy? We ask because a recent study has explored the link between type 1 diabetes and gut inflammation and changes to the microbiome.

It has been shown that people with type 1 diabetes have increased intestinal permeability – i.e. it is easier for undigested substances to enter the blood stream. This can result in symptoms such as persistent muscle or joint pain, poor concentration, indigestion, flatulence, rashes, recurrent bladder or yeast infections and more.

Type 1s also show changes in the microvilli. Microvilli are tiny projections that exist in, on or around cells that expand the cell surface area and enhance its ability to absorb nutrients. They are mostly found on the surface of the intestine.

Errant Gut Bacteria

While research can’t prove it, errant gut bacteria is thought to be the cause of the changes.

A new study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism investigated the changes in the gut’s bacterial flora and levels of inflammation in type 1 diabetics.

Samples from the first section of the intestine were taken from 54 participants between 2009 and 2015. The researchers made sure the diets of those taking part were similar when the samples were taken.

More Signs of Inflammation

The results showed that people with type 1 diabetes had significantly more signs of inflammation than control participants and people with coeliac disease. Ten inflammation-related genes were expressed significantly more in type 1 diabetics. There were also reduced levels of proteobacteria – a major group of bacteria – and increased levels of firmicutes, a major category of disease-causing bacteria.

Studies in mouse models have seen similar changes to composition.

The next step is to see if changes in the gut are caused by type 1 diabetes or vice versa.

The report’s senior author Lorenzo Piemonti said exploring why type 1 diabetics get gut changes could enable scientists to find new ways to treat the disease by targeting diabetics’ unique gastro-intestinal characteristics.


6 thoughts on “Gut Changes and Type 1 Diabetes”

  1. VERY interesting!

    My mother was a teacher from the 30s to the 70s and had at most one but usually no diabetics in the entire school, also very few kids with asthma or allergies. My experience from the fifties to the seventies was similar, at school and college.

    ISTR about a decade back it was claimed that although Type 1 was still only about 10% of diabetics, the *rate of increase* was actually higher than that of Type 2, and especially in adult onset/LADA. I haven’t been keeping up, is this still true? If so this may be an important environmental factor, there has to be something driving the increase in what is often considered a “genetic” disease, just as for other “autoimmune” diseases which also have a genetic component


  2. Hi Chris, I have read that the ‘rate of increase’ is going up but I don’t know for sure. I’m not scientist or medical expert, but it does seem as if environmental factors should be considered. Incidentally, I was diagnosed in the early 1980s and four other children from my very small home town were diagnosed at the same time. I’ve always wondered why someone didn’t look into that.


  3. Ha! Yes, one of my father’s brothers was Type 1, my father developed Graves and my mother developed Crohn’s, AFAIK all while they lived in the same village. I’d like to dig them up and ask if it occurred at the same time. No other autoimmune diseases that I know of in the rest of either family.

    I do know several people from families with a clear disposition to autoimmune diseases where everyone has one and some have more than one, where for example a mother developed adult onset Type 1 and her daughter developed RA at the same time, and she went on to develop I think lupus while her daughter got Hashimotos, both times apparently after getting the flu. Others seem to develop autoimmune diseases after measles, one theory being that an otherwise asymptomatic virus attacks when they body is weakened by another virus. I’ve also read of a strong link with coeliac. There’s an almost-pattern there, maybe a virus which gets into the bloodstream when the gut lining is damaged and sends the immune system on a rampage against bodily tissues. Could even be bacteria or their protein fragments. Useful line of research, for once.


  4. It is interesting, isn’t it? I’ve heard of the strong link with coeliac disease too, though of course you avoid that problem if you follow a low-carb diet anyway… Thanks again for reading and commenting on our blog.


  5. And thank YOU for providing the blog in the first place! Also for renovating the material from DSolve to which I used to refer the newly diagnosed.

    Liked by 1 person

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