Toxins From Bacteria May Cause Type 2 Diabetes

shutterstock_283936349New research indicates that exposure to toxins from a certain type of bacteria may aid in the development of type 2 diabetes. Scientists from the University of Iowa observed that rabbits exposed to a toxin produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria also developed symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes such as impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Results of the study appeared in the journal mBio.

A previous study conducted by Patrick Schlievert, PhD, professor and DEO of microbiology at the UI Carver College of Medicine, discovered that superantigens, which are toxins produced by all strains of staph bacteria, have the ability to disrupt the immune system. The recent study on the rabbits also coincided with a study that involved observing staph colonization levels in four patients with diabetes. The study team believes that exposure to superantigens in the patients with high staph colonization levels were comparable to the levels of superantigens in the rabbits that led to the development of type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Schlievert stated, “We basically reproduced type 2 diabetes in rabbits simply through chronic exposure to the staph superantigen. I think we have a way to intercede here and alter the course of diabetes.”

“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,” he further added.

The researchers believe the findings will help lead to future therapies that involve neutralizing superantigens or exposure to them as a way to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. The researchers are working on a vaccine against superantigens, which they believe may also work to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Source: University of Iowa Health Care. (2015, June 1). Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 4, 2015 from


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