APR 20, 2022 1:42 PM PDT

Gut Microbes Can Control Pancreatic Growth & Function

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The importance of gut microbes in human health has been made apparent by a mountain of evidence in recent years, but the extent to which they can affect physiology is still astonishing. New research has used a mouse model to show that bacteria in the gut can control pancreatic function, and influence hormone production in the gastrointestinal tract. The findings have been reported in the journal Diabetes. Some aspects of this work were confirmed in a small human study, and may lead to a new kind of treatment for obesity and some types of diabetes.

Image credit: Pixabay

The pancreas secretes a variety of hormones that can have a dramatic effect on metabolism, such as insulin, as well as enzymes that are involved in digestion. In diabetes, pancreatic function is typically impaired.

In this study, a mouse model was put in two groups, one of which was fed a normal diet while the other was fed a high-fat diet. Compared to mice on a normal diet, mice that were fed a diet high in fat became obese and insulin-resistant, which happens in type 2 diabetes. Some of the mice were then given two common antibiotics to reshape their gut microbiomes. The obese mice that also received antibiotics became less insulin-resistant, less diabetic, and more tolerant of glucose compared to the obese mice not given antibiotics.

When mice fed a normal diet, who stayed lean, were also given antibiotics, they became even more responsive to insulin.

“This consistency in our results in both lean and obese mice suggest that the effects on host metabolism are independent from the diet and/or fat mass, but directly related to the altered gut microbiota composition,” said Emrah Altindis, an Assistant Professor of Biology at Boston College.

A high-fat diet also caused the pancreas to increase in size in obese mice. After they were treated with antibiotics, however, the pancreas returned to its normal size. The levels of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas were also affected by a high-fat diet, and those levels were influenced by antibiotics as well, returning to normal in some cases. These effects were not observed in lean mice, noted Altindis.

In the gastrointestinal tracts of obese mice, gut hormones that regulate metabolism were also returned to normal with an antibiotic treatment.

Additional studies were performed using germ-free mice, which do not carry gut microbes of their own. The researchers transplanted microbes from the guts of mice treated with antibiotics, and saw the same effects, showing that gut microbes are having these effects.

Finally, the researchers examined fecal samples from insulin-resistant, obese men who took an antibiotic called vancomycin for one week. “We showed that one week of vancomycin treatment was sufficient to alter their pancreas enzyme levels, a very similar result to our findings in mice,” said Altindis.

The researchers are continuing this research, and want to learn more about the mechanisms underlying these effects.

Sources: Boston College, Diabetes

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 09, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
How A Dangerous Microbe Can Survive for Months Without Water
MAY 09, 2022
How A Dangerous Microbe Can Survive for Months Without Water
The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/acinetobacter-baumanni ...
MAY 18, 2022
Immunology
COVID-19, MIS-C & Kawasaki Disease Lead to the Same Immune Response
MAY 18, 2022
COVID-19, MIS-C & Kawasaki Disease Lead to the Same Immune Response
The world has quickly learned that the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19. But it can also cause another disorder in child ...
JUN 01, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
How To Ship Your Lab Material Legally and Prevent Molecular Damage
JUN 01, 2022
How To Ship Your Lab Material Legally and Prevent Molecular Damage
How To Ship Your Lab Material Legally and Prevent Molecular Damage Written by Scott Weitze Shipping biological and molec ...
JUN 23, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
This Protein Can Stop the Flu From Replicating
JUN 23, 2022
This Protein Can Stop the Flu From Replicating
When viral pathogens like influenza infect cells, they can take over the machinery in the host cells that have been infe ...
JUN 30, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Zika- and Dengue-Infected Humans are More Attractive to Mosquitoes
JUN 30, 2022
Zika- and Dengue-Infected Humans are More Attractive to Mosquitoes
Researchers have found that when people have a Zika or dengue virus infection, they release a molecule that can attract ...
JUL 31, 2022
Microbiology
Bacterial Pathogen That Causes a Tropical Disease Now Found in the US
JUL 31, 2022
Bacterial Pathogen That Causes a Tropical Disease Now Found in the US
A bacterium that causes a deadly tropical disease called meliodosis, sometimes known as Whitmore's disease, has been det ...
Loading Comments...