Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to summarize potential modulations of the intestinal microbiome aimed at preventing or delaying progression to overt type 1 diabetes in the light of recently identified perturbations of the gut microbiota associated with the development of type 1 diabetes.
Recent findings: Accumulated data suggest that the gut microbiota is involved at two different steps in the evolution of type 1 diabetes. At the first step, the intestinal tract is colonized by a microbial community unable to provide an adequate education of the immune system. As a consequence, the infant acquires susceptibility to immune-mediated diseases, type 1 diabetes included. At the other step, the young child seroconverts to positivity for diabetes-associated autoantibodies. This is preceded or accompanied by a decrease in the diversity of the intestinal microbiota and an increased abundance of Bacteroides species. These changes will affect the disease process promoting progression toward overt type 1 diabetes. By providing specific probiotics, one can affect the colonization of the intestinal tract in the newborn infant or strengthen the immune education in early life. Human milk oligosaccharides function as nutrients for "healthy" bacteria. Dietary interventions applying modified starches can influence the numbers and activities of both autoreactive and regulatory T cells and provide protection against autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Modulation of the intestinal microbiome holds the promise of effective protection against human type 1 diabetes.
Keywords: Diet; Microbiome; Microbiota; Prebiotics; Probiotics; Type 1 diabetes.