Most of you likely know someone or will know someone who has type 2 diabetes. Not only does it account for around 90% of all diabetes, it affects around 8% of the world’s population. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body essentially does not recognize insulin, the protein that tells the cells in your body to take up glucose from your blood. Your cells don’t get enough sugar and cannot function properly. Furthermore, all that extra glucose floating around in your blood can also have devastating effects.
Its prevalence has been increasing, along with the rising obesity epidemic. This is because obesity and similar diet and lifestyle choices often cause type 2 diabetes. There are other causes, such as genetics, gender, and certain bacteria in the gut microbiota as well. The bacterial species Bacteroides and Prevotella have been connected with type 2 diabetes, and this is important for a study that was recently done with medication for type 2 diabetes.
The medications used in the study were Glipizide, which acts by trying to ramp up your body’s insulin production, and Acarbose, which stops more complex sugars from being broken down thus making sure less glucose is absorbed into your blood. While Glipizide would have no effect on the bacteria in the users gut, Acarbose would allow more complex sugars to pass farther into the intestine and thus provide different molecules for bacteria to chow down on. This key difference was vital for explaining the effects the researchers saw.
Patients treated with acarbose had increased amount of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and depleted amounts of Bacteroides. Clearly Bacteroides aren’t that big of a fan of those new complex sugars. This change in bacterial composition clearly also changed the genes involved in bile acid metabolism. This is important because specific types and ratios of bile acids are heavily involved in metabolism. The change in genes, changed the amount and type of bile acids present in the patients. This change provided the patients with a lot of benefits, including lower blood sugar and increased responsiveness to insulin.
The researchers also noticed that within the group of patients treated with Acarbose, those with a higher level of Bacteroides than Prevotella exhibited greater improvement of metabolic parameters, and thus lowered the burden of type 2 diabetes. These findings could potentially show that knowledge of a the bacteria swimming around in a type 2 diabetic’s gut would allow the prediction of which medication would have a greater affect on them.