Study Suggests Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and H. Pylori Bacteria

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The presence of   gastric H. pylori bacteria is associated with elevated levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.  Yu Chen, PhD, and Martin Blaser, MD, at NYU School of Medicine, part of NYU Langone Medical Center, cross-analyzed data from participants in two National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES III and NHANES 1999-2000) to assess the association between H. pylori and levels of HbA1c.  They found H. pylori was consistently positively related to HbA1c level in adults.  This association was stronger in obese individuals with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). The results suggest the bacteria may play a role in the development of diabetes in adults.

The researches say the most plausible hypothesis is that H. pylori directly or indirectly increases levels of HbA1c in adulthood, particularly in obese individuals.

According to the researchers, “The mammalian stomach produces leptin and ghrelin, two hormones involved in energy homeostasis and whose interactions affect obesity, insulin sensitivity,and glucose homeostasis. Helicobacter pylori are gram-negative bacteria that colonize the human stomach; increasing evidence indicates that H. pylori is involved in the regulation of these two hormones. Helicobacter pylori is an ancient organism that is highly prevalent in developing countries but is falling in incidence in developed countries. This change in the microecology of human populations due to the disappearance of H. pylori may have metabolic consequences both early and late in life and, in particular, could affect risk of obesity and diabetes by influencing the production of gastric leptin and ghrelin.”

They explain, “H. pylori plays a role in the regulation of leptin and ghrelin, which are central to energy homeostasis and metabolism. Accumulating evidence also indicates that the metabolic syndrome is an inflammatory disorder. Helicobacter pylori induces gastric inflammation.”

The researchers suggest that eradicating H. pylori using antibiotics in some older obese individuals could be beneficial.  Daniel I. Cohen, an epidemiologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel who studies H. Pylori’s health effects seems to agree.  “If further confirmed, the findings of this study could have important clinical and public health implications.  Anti H. pylori therapy may be beneficial for H. pylori infected people with higher BMI to control or prevent diabetes mellitus.”

For the full study see here.

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