Gut microorganisms as promising targets for the management of type 2 diabetes

Diabetologia. 2015 Oct;58(10):2206-17. doi: 10.1007/s00125-015-3712-7. Epub 2015 Jul 31.


Each human intestine harbours not only hundreds of trillions of bacteria but also bacteriophage particles, viruses, fungi and archaea, which constitute a complex and dynamic ecosystem referred to as the gut microbiota. An increasing number of data obtained during the last 10 years have indicated changes in gut bacterial composition or function in type 2 diabetic patients. Analysis of this 'dysbiosis' enables the detection of alterations in specific bacteria, clusters of bacteria or bacterial functions associated with the occurrence or evolution of type 2 diabetes; these bacteria are predominantly involved in the control of inflammation and energy homeostasis. Our review focuses on two key questions: does gut dysbiosis truly play a role in the occurrence of type 2 diabetes, and will recent discoveries linking the gut microbiota to host health be helpful for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for type 2 diabetes? Here we review how pharmacological, surgical and nutritional interventions for type 2 diabetic patients may impact the gut microbiota. Experimental studies in animals are identifying which bacterial metabolites and components act on host immune homeostasis and glucose metabolism, primarily by targeting intestinal cells involved in endocrine and gut barrier functions. We discuss novel approaches (e.g. probiotics, prebiotics and faecal transfer) and the need for research and adequate intervention studies to evaluate the feasibility and relevance of these new therapies for the management of type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: Diabetes; Glycaemia; Gut microbiota; Obesity; Prebiotic; Review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans