Prospects for Primary Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes by Restoring a Disappearing Microbe

Pediatr Diabetes. 2018 Dec;19(8):1400-1406. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12756. Epub 2018 Sep 25.


Prevention of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes has become more urgent with its marked increased incidence in recent decades in the modern world. Temporally associated with the rising incidence of type 1 diabetes, as well as other autoimmune and allergic diseases in childhood in modern times, is the disappearance of Bifidobacterium and specifically Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis) predominance in the intestinal microbiota of breastfed, vaginally-delivered infants. B. infantis efficiently metabolizes human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) without cross-feeding free sugar monomers to other commensals or pathogens and thereby dominates the intestinal microbiota of breastfed infants. Increased levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which stimulate both immunoregulation and healthy intestinal and pancreatic β-cell function, are generated by B. infantis. Based on recent observations of the intestinal microbiota in early life in young children who develop type 1 diabetes and demonstration of the robust preventive effects of SCFA in animal models of autoimmune diabetes, we hypothesize that restoring a B. infantis-dominant microbiota early in infancy will prevent islet autoimmunity and childhood-onset type 1 diabetes.

Keywords: microbiome; prevention; probiotics; short-chain fatty acids; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium* / physiology
  • Breast Feeding
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / microbiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dysbiosis / complications
  • Dysbiosis / diet therapy*
  • Dysbiosis / epidemiology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*