Background: A recent study using a rat model found significant differences at the time of diabetes onset in the bacterial communities responsible for type 1 diabetes modulation. We hypothesized that type 1 diabetes in humans could also be linked to a specific gut microbiota. Our aim was to quantify and evaluate the difference in the composition of gut microbiota between children with type 1 diabetes and healthy children and to determine the possible relationship of the gut microbiota of children with type 1 diabetes with the glycemic level.
Methods: A case-control study was carried out with 16 children with type 1 diabetes and 16 healthy children. The fecal bacteria composition was investigated by polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results: The mean similarity index was 47.39% for the healthy children and 37.56% for the children with diabetes, whereas the intergroup similarity index was 26.69%. In the children with diabetes, the bacterial number of Actinobacteria and Firmicutes, and the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio were all significantly decreased, with the quantity of Bacteroidetes significantly increased with respect to healthy children. At the genus level, we found a significant increase in the number of Clostridium, Bacteroides and Veillonella and a significant decrease in the number of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Blautia coccoides/Eubacterium rectale group and Prevotella in the children with diabetes. We also found that the number of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio correlated negatively and significantly with the plasma glucose level while the quantity of Clostridium correlated positively and significantly with the plasma glucose level in the diabetes group.
Conclusions: This is the first study showing that type 1 diabetes is associated with compositional changes in gut microbiota. The significant differences in the number of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Clostridium and in the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio observed between the two groups could be related to the glycemic level in the group with diabetes. Moreover, the quantity of bacteria essential to maintain gut integrity was significantly lower in the children with diabetes than the healthy children. These findings could be useful for developing strategies to control the development of type 1 diabetes by modifying the gut microbiota.