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.