News / Health

Gut Bacteria Increase Pre-Diabetes Risk

Jessica Berman
Certain bacteria in the human gut seem to be associated with pre-diabetes, a condition marked by a constellation of risk factors that often precedes the on-set of full-blown type 2 diabetes in humans. The finding is part of an effort to discover the role of trillions of bacteria or microbiota that live in our bodies.

According to Brandi Cantarel, the number of bacteria living happily inside us outnumbers human cells by an astounding 10-1.  Cantarel is a researcher at the Institute for Genome Science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“With all that extra stuff, let’s say genetic material in our bodies that doesn’t come from us, it comes from other sources, we think it has to be doing something," said Cantarel. "Right?”
 
According to Cantarel, scientists believe there are over 7,000 strains of more than 1,000 different species of bacteria that live in the digestive tract, most of them in the gut or small intestine, which play a role in human health.  Many of the trillions of microbes are helpful; without them, for example, we couldn’t digest food properly.

But experts say bacteria that are out of balance could be harmful.  Researchers have identified 26 microbes that researchers say may be negatively associated with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.  

Investigators studied the gut microbiota of 310 members of the Old Order Amish, a closed-knit sect of Caucasian individuals living in rural Pennsylvania that emigrated from central Europe in the 1700’s in search of religious freedom. Experts say the Amish community has less genetic variation and a similar diet, making it easier to single out risk factors that might contribute to disease.  They also take fewer medications.

Richard Horenstein, an endocrinologist at the University of Maryland, says stool samples were analyzed to identify gut microbiota in the Amish volunteers, all of whom were either overweight or obese with a range of metabolic syndrome indicators.

The samples, according to Horenstein, contained bacteria researchers were able to link to elevated blood pressure and total cholesterol levels, obesity and higher than normal levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation found to play a role in heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.

Horenstein says the participants fell into one of three distinct groups of gut microbiota.  The greatest number of Amish had gut bacteria often seen in farm animals.

“And may even suggest the transmission of gut microbes across species, so from man to the animals or from the animals.  And this is highly speculative," said Horenstein.

In the future, Horenstein says researchers might investigate a possible connection between human and animal microbiota. Another area of investigation, according to researchers, is to study the gut bacteria people in the general population who are of Central European descent for any similarities to the Amish population and to see whether gut microbes change over time, since most people tend to gain weight and develop chronic diseases as they age.
   
At this point, researchers say they cannot draw a direct connection between gut microbiota and pre-diabetes, so their findings cannot be used to help determine who is at risk for pre-diabetes.

An article on gut bacteria and metabolic syndrome is published in the journal PLoS One.  

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid