The major contributors to insulin resistance (a forerunner to type 2 diabetes) are recognised as excess weight and lack of physical activity. But publication of ground-breaking research by an international team in the journal Nature suggests that there is much more to the story and it could change the way we view treatment and prevention.
Beginning with 277 people without diabetes and 75 with type 2 diabetes (but still able to produce insulin), the team led by Helle Krogh Pedersen monitored the blood concentrations of over 1200 metabolites and combined this with a detailed analysis of the gut bacteria for each participant.
They discovered that people who were insulin resistant had elevated blood levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs originate from ingested food or gut microbial synthesis, and have been previously associated with incident type 2 diabetes, and normalisation of BCAA levels has been observed after bariatric surgery.
They also found that the main drivers of elevated BCAA in those people were two bacteria; Provotella copri and Bacteroides vulgatus. Lesser roles in insulin resistance were also played by E.coli, Suterella wadsorthensis and unclassified Sutterella and Prevotella species.
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