Mouse Study Links Repeated Antibiotic Exposure to Type 1 Diabetes

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A study in mice outlines a potential association between repeated antibiotic use and type 1 diabetes.
A study in mice outlines a potential association between repeated antibiotic use and type 1 diabetes.

(HealthDay News) — Repeated treatments with antibiotics have been linked to the development of type 1 diabetes in mice, according to a study published in Nature Microbiology.

Martin Blaser, MD, a professor of translational medicine and microbiology at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues looked at the effects of antibiotics on non-obese mice that were susceptible to type 1 diabetes. The team used very young mice, similar in age to a 6- month to 1-year old child. The mice were given pulsed antibiotic therapy (3 doses at different time periods), a continuous but very low dose of antibiotics, or no antibiotics.

Mice exposed to the pulsed therapy were twice as likely to develop type 1 diabetes as mice that got no antibiotics. Dr Blaser told HealthDay that antibiotics led to a change in the microbiome in the gut. Those changes resulted in other changes, including alterations in T cells. That, in turn, led to increased inflammation in the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas, he said.

The researchers also transferred some of the changed gut microbiota from the antibiotic-exposed mice to 2 other groups of mice. This increased the risk of type 1 diabetes in one group, but not the other.

"These findings show that early-life antibiotic treatments alter the gut microbiota and its metabolic capacities, intestinal gene expression and T-cell populations, accelerating type 1 diabetes onset in non-obese diabetic mice," the researchers concluded.


  1. Livanos AE, Greiner TU, Vangay P, et al. Antibiotic-mediated gut microbiome perturbation accelerates development of type 1 diabetes in mice. Nat Microbiol. 2016. doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.140.
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