Gut microbiota transplantation may prevent development of diabetes and fatty liver disease

April 19, 2012

Exciting new data presented today at the International Liver Congress 2012 shows the gut microbiota's causal role in the development of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), independent of obesity.(1) Though an early stage animal model, the French study highlights the possibility of preventing diabetes and NAFLD with gut microbiota transplantation – the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering faecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a diseased recipient.(2)

In the 16 week study, two groups of germ free mice received gut microbiota transplants; one set from donor mice displaying symptoms of insulin resistance and liver steatosis (responders), the other from normal mice (non responders). The donor mice were selected due to their response to being fed a high fat diet.

The germ free group that received microbiota from symptomatic mice (responder receivers - RR) showed higher levels of fat concentration in the liver as well as being insulin resistant. The germ free group that received microbiota from healthy mice (non-responder-receivers – NRR) maintained normal glucose levels and sensitivity to insulin.

EASL Scientific Committee Member Dr Frank Lammert said: "The factors leading to Non-Alcoholic (NAFLD) are poorly understood, but it is known that NAFLD and Type 2 diabetes are characterised, respectively, by liver inflammation and metabolic disorders like insulin resistance."

"This study shows that different microbiota cause different metabolic responses in animals. By implanting microbiota from healthy mice, the study authors prevented the development of liver inflammation and insulin resistance, both indications of liver disease and . Thus, gut microbiota transplants could have a therapeutic role in the development of these diseases."

The RR mice also showed lower levels of microorganisms than usually found in the healthy gut. Lachnospiraceae was identified as the species most important in developing fatty and insulin resistance.

At present, the intestinal microbiota is considered to constitute a "microbial organ": one that has pivotal roles in the body's metabolism as well as immune function. Therefore transplantation aims to restore gut functionality and re-establish a certain state of intestinal flora.

Explore further: Researchers examine link between bacteria in the digestive system and obesity

More information: References:

1. Le Roy T et al. Gut microbiota transplantation demonstrates its causal role in the development of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. Abstract presented at the International Liver Congress 2012

2. Khoruts A and Sadowsky MJ, Therapeutic transplantation of the distal gut microbiota. Mucosal Immunology 2011;4:4-7

Related Stories

Gut bacteria can cause obesity

February 12, 2010

Diet, exercise and genes are not the only factors which determine if someone can become obese. The composition of the intestinal bacteria may also account for a person's obesity. This is the contention of Wageningen microbiologists ...

Fatty liver may herald impending type 2 diabetes

February 24, 2011

A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that individuals with fatty liver were five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than ...

Gut bacteria can control organ functions

February 28, 2011

Bacteria in the human gut may not just be helping digest food but also could be exerting some level of control over the metabolic functions of other organs, like the liver, according to research published this week in the ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.