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Long-term antibiotic use can accelerate diabetes, study finds

Long-term use and over use of antibiotics could be linked to the onset of Type 1 diabetes.

A new study from UBC Okanagan (UBCO) has found that those who used antibiotics over a long period of time developed gut bacteria that was linked to the onset of type 1 diabetes.

Researchers at UBCO looked at diabetes-onset in mice, discovering that those who were susceptible to diabetes had more harmful and less beneficial bacteria than those resistant to the disease. The harmful bacteria was found to generate an immune response, therefore causing destruction of insulin-producing cells.

“The incidence of Type 1 diabetes has doubled in the last few years in Western countries, and this is most obvious in children aged 1 to 5,” said Assist. Prof. at UBC Okanagan in microbiologist, Deanna Gibson.

<who> Photo Credit: UBC Okanagan </who> UBCO Professor and microbiologist, Deanna Gibson.

“This suggests that early life events are critical to health. Our research pinpoints the significant role of bacteria and how antibiotic use can alter their normal development in the gut which then can alter the health of these individuals.”

There are currently more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes, a chronic disease where the body does not produce enough insulin. The body’s immune system accidently attacks and kills insulin-producing cells.

“We were able to establish a clear relationship between bacteria, the body’s immune reaction and the development of Type 1 diabetes,” said Gibson

“This is likely to have significant implications for treatment of the disease. The next steps are narrow-in and identify which bacteria induce or perhaps protect against Type 1 diabetes. This, in turn, could help with the production of more specific antibiotics.”

Gibson said the new research will likely have significant impact on treatment for the disease.

“The next steps are to narrow-in and identify which bacteria induce or perhaps protect against Type 1 diabetes. This, in turn, could help with the protection of more specific antibiotics.”

It is not known how to prevent type 1 diabetes, but the disease usually develops in childhood or adolescence.

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