New research suggests that it may be possible to prevent babies from developing Type 1 diabetes by restoring their gut microorganisms with a maternal faecal transplant.
The findings from a Rutgers study using a genetic analysis of mice suggest that newborns at risk of Type 1 diabetes because their microbiome was disturbed by antibiotics can have the condition reversed by transplanting faecal microbiota from their mother into their gastrointestinal tract after the antibiotic course has been completed.
The study has been published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
Risk of autoimmune disease in young children
Martin Blaser, Director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers, and co-author of the study, said: “Our previous work has shown that exposing young animals to antibiotics perturbs the microbiome, which may change age-associated immunity and organ-specific inflammation, increasing risk of immune-mediated diseases.”
Researchers compared mice that were exposed to antibiotics between days five and ten of life and given a transplant of maternal microbiota up to a week later, and those that were not. The researchers found that the mice that were given the transplant had their microbiome partially restored and their diabetes risk brought back to the baseline level.
Reversing the effects of antibiotics
Xue-Song Zhang, an assistant research professor at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers, and co-author of the study, said: “The mice that were exposed to antibiotics had the expression of indicator genes in their intestinal wall that were either too high or too low, but the transplant brought that back almost to the original levels and restored metabolic pathways.
“We were able to identify groups of genes that returned to normal after the transplant as if the mice had never received the antibiotics.”
As the next step, the researchers plan to identify the beneficial microbes.