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Study shows intestinal bacteria may prevent type 2 diabetes

Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria, which comes from a high-fiber diet.

By
Amy Wallace
Research by the University of Eastern Finland has found that intestinal bacteria could help protect against the development of type 2 diabetes. Photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
Research by the University of Eastern Finland has found that intestinal bacteria could help protect against the development of type 2 diabetes. Photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

April 11 (UPI) -- Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that an intestinal bacteria may protect against type 2 diabetes.

Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria, and high concentrations of the acid may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, the researchers report. High concentrations of indolepropionic acid come from a diet high in dietary fiber and whole grains.

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The researchers compared two groups of participants in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, or DPS, who were overweight and had impaired glucose tolerance, focusing on the serum metabolite profile of 200 participants. Of the 200 participants, 96 developed type 2 diabetes within the first 5 years, while 104 did not develop the condition during a 15-year follow up.

The greatest differences between the groups was in the concentration of indolepropionic acid and certain liquid metabolites. A high concentration of indolepropionic acid in serum was found to protect against type 2 diabetes development.

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The link between indolepropionic acid and the risk of type 2 diabetes was also studied using the Finnish Metabolic Syndrome in Men Study, METSIM, and the Swedish Vasterbotten Intervention Project, VIP.

High levels of indolepropionic acid were found to protect against type 2 diabetes in all databases and was also found to promote insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, which researchers say may explain the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

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"Earlier studies, too, have linked intestinal bacteria with the risk of disease in overweight people," Kati Hanhineva, academy research fellow at the University of Eastern Finland, said in a press release. "Our findings suggest that indolepropionic acid may be one factor that mediates the protective effect of diet and intestinal bacteria."

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The study also identified several new lipid metabolites whose high concentrations were linked with improved insulin resistance and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The concentrations of the metabolites were also associated with dietary fat -- the lower amount of saturated fat in the diet, the higher the concentrations of these metabolites.

The study was published in Scientific Reports.

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