Targeting the Microbiota May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

This article was originally published in French on Univadis.

An article published in Medicine of Metabolic Diseases looks at the developments in research on the gut microbiota and examines new possibilities for management for people with type 2 diabetes.

Akkermansia muciniphila

New bacterial analysis technologies have made it possible to identify all the bacteria present in the gut microbiota of obese and diabetic mice that were treated or that were not treated with prebiotics (fructooligosaccharides) and that received a control diet. More than 100 taxa were found to be affected by the prebiotics, including a new bacterium called Akkermansia muciniphila, which belongs to a new genus of bacteria that live close to the intestinal mucosa.

In animal models, levels of A muciniphilaone of the most abundant bacteria of the gut microbiota, were inversely correlated with body weight, adiposity, blood glucose, and intestinal permeability. Administration of A muciniphila to mice receiving a high-fat diet was associated with an increase in the mucus layer and restoration of the expression of tight junction proteins, antimicrobial peptides, and bioactive lipids with anti-inflammatory properties. A muciniphila also was associated with a decrease in obesity, inflammatory parameters, and insulin resistance and an improvement in glucose tolerance.

After pasteurization, the effects of this bacterium were not only preserved but were also enhanced.

Effects in Humans

Data from the literature indicate that A muciniphila is significantly reduced in the gut of people who are overweight or who have obesity, prediabetes, or type 2 diabetes, as well as people with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Daily oral supplementation with live or pasteurized A muciniphila at the dose of 1010 bacteria/day or more for 3 months was safe and well tolerated among patients who were overweight or with obesity, as well as people with insulin resistance who presented with metabolic syndrome. Compared with placebo, pasteurized A muciniphila improved insulin sensitivity and lowered serum insulin and plasma total cholesterol levels, and it was associated with a reduction in body fat, hip circumference, and weight (−2.27 kg). Blood markers of inflammation and liver dysfunction were improved. Further studies are necessary to assess to what extent this bacterium could reduce or limit the use of medications for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

EFSA Approval

In its pasteurized form, this bacterium was approved by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in September 2021 as a “novel food” ingredient for administration in humans in the form of dietary supplements. This fundamental step paves the way for more in-depth research into the therapeutic potential of this bacterium.

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