‘Bad’ gut bacteria may help control diabetes
Washington: A stomach bacteria believed to cause health problems such as ulcers and gastric cancer may actually be beneficial to diabetics, a new study has found.
According to immunologists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute of Virginia Tech, the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, usually the villain in studies of gastric cancer and peptic ulcers, balances the stomach's ecosystem and controls body weight and glucose tolerance.
"H pylori is the dominant member of the gastric microbiota and infects about half of the world population. While H pylori infection can be associated with severe disease, it helps control chronic inflammatory, allergic, or autoimmune diseases," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, director of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory and the Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens (MIEP) at Virginia Tech.
"We demonstrated for the first time that gastric colonisation with H pylori exerts beneficial effects in mouse models of obesity and diabetes," Bassaganya-Riera said.
Mice infected with H pylori showed less insulin resistance than uninfected mice or other mice infected with a more virulent strain of H pylori, according to the study published in journal PLOS One.
Researchers believe that whether the infection is harmful or beneficial depends on the interaction between the genetic makeup of H pylori and the host's immune response.
"Our new findings suggest that H pylori may provide important metabolic traits required to ameliorate diabetes that humans have not evolved on their own," Bassaganya-Riera said in a statement.
The study suggests that the overuse of antibiotics for everything from misdiagnosed infections in humans to supplementary livestock feed may destroy beneficial bacteria and contribute directly to diseases such as obesity, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma.