Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

Staphylococcus aureus
Scanning electron micrograph of S. aureus; false color added. Credit: CDC

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers (H. pylori bacteria).

A new study by University of Iowa microbiologists now suggests that bacteria may even be a cause of one of the most prevalent diseases of our time - Type 2 .

The research team led by Patrick Schlievert, PhD, professor and DEO of microbiology at the UI Carver College of Medicine, found that prolonged exposure to a toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria causes rabbits to develop the hallmark symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, including insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and .

"We basically reproduced Type 2 diabetes in rabbits simply through chronic exposure to the staph superantigen," Schlievert says.

The UI findings suggest that therapies aimed at eliminating or neutralizing the might have potential for preventing or treating Type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is a known risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, but obesity also alters a person's microbiome - the ecosystem of bacteria that colonize our bodies and affect our health.

"What we are finding is that as people gain weight, they are increasingly likely to be colonized by staph bacteria - to have large numbers of these bacteria living on the surface of their skin," Schlievert says. "People who are colonized by staph bacteria are being chronically exposed to the superantigens the bacteria are producing."

Schlievert's research has previously shown that superantigens - toxins produced by all strains of staph bacteria - disrupt the immune system and are responsible for the deadly effects of various staph infections, such as , sepsis, and endocarditis.

The team's latest study, published recently in the journal mBio, shows that superantigens interact with fat cells and the immune system to cause chronic systemic inflammation, and this inflammation leads to insulin resistance and other symptoms characteristic of Type 2 diabetes. In examining the levels of staph colonization on the skin of four patients with diabetes, Schlievert's team estimate that exposure to the bacterial superantigens for people who are heavily colonized by staph is proportional to the doses of superantigen that caused the rabbits to develop diabetes symptoms in the team's experiments.

"I think we have a way to intercede here and alter the course of diabetes," Schlievert says. "We are working on a vaccine against the superantigens and we believe that this type of vaccine could prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes."

The team also is investigating the use of a topical gel containing glycerol monolaurate, which kills staph bacteria on contact, as an approach to eliminate staph bacteria from human skin. They plan to test whether this approach will improve blood sugar levels in patients with .

Explore further

Bacteria and fat: A 'perfect storm' for inflammation, may promote diabetes

Journal information: mBio

Provided by University of Iowa
Citation: Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes (2015, June 1) retrieved 21 May 2019 from
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Jun 01, 2015
If staph can do this, possibly other bacteria as well as parasites like pinworms can cause inflammation.

Jun 01, 2015
Well, I want to offer some corroboration from my own personal experience, every so often I get pain in my upper back, dull pain and I wrote it off as my usual spondylosis, but more than once I had pain like pins poking me in the area of my joints in my upper back, as a firm believer in the germ theory, I started right away to take Doxycycline, 100 ever 12 hours, and every time without fail this takes away all pain within three days . I firmly believe that the germs mostly come from Dental problems, as I have had a bad taste in my mouth when I wake up in the morning and gargle Also another interesting fact is that Doxycyline has helped my blood sugar readings to come down to a more normal level I know this isn't hard proof, but I felt I had to report this to the Scientific Community .

Jun 01, 2015
The comment guidelines in this journal recommend: "Keep science: Include references to the published scientific literature to support your statements. ".
Unfortunately the journal doesn't provide references for the articles it cites! The name of the journal is NOT a reference. It doesn't enable a person to review the actual source article.

So here the author makes an irresponsible statement that 'bacteria may cause diabetes' in the title of this article. That's nonsense. Multiple complex interacting factors result in inflammation, which causes diabetes. And in obese people, abundance of bacterial antigens stimulate the inflammation.

Let's get the title straight please. And let's provide a real reference so readers can see the source articles.

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