Objective: Environmental factors driving the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D) are still largely unknown. Both animal and human studies have shown an association between altered fecal microbiota composition, impaired production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and T1D onset. However, observational evidence on SCFA and fecal and oral microbiota in adults with longstanding T1D vs healthy controls (HC) is lacking.
Research design and methods: We included 53 T1D patients without complications or medication and 50 HC matched for age, sex and BMI. Oral and fecal microbiota, fecal and plasma SCFA levels, markers of intestinal inflammation (fecal IgA and calprotectin) and markers of low-grade systemic inflammation were measured.
Results: Oral microbiota were markedly different in T1D (eg abundance of Streptococci) compared to HC. Fecal analysis showed decreased butyrate producing species in T1D and less butyryl-CoA transferase genes. Also, plasma levels of acetate and propionate were lower in T1D, with similar fecal SCFA. Finally, fecal strains Christensenella and Subdoligranulum correlated with glycemic control, inflammatory parameters and SCFA.
Conclusions: We conclude that T1D patients harbor a different amount of intestinal SCFA (butyrate) producers and different plasma acetate and propionate levels. Future research should disentangle cause and effect and whether supplementation of SCFA-producing bacteria or SCFA alone can have disease-modifying effects in T1D.