Gut Bacteria Contribute to Improved Prediction of Type 2 Diabetes


Type 2 diabetes risk prediction is improved by observing changes in gut bacteria, a study finds.


Lack of fluctuations in the abundance of gut bacteria over a 24-hour time period can indicate that an individual has type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the medical journal Cell Host & Microbe.1

“When certain gut bacteria do not follow a day-night rhythm, so if their number and function does not change over the course of the day, this can be an indicator for a potential type 2 diabetes disease,” explained chronobiologist Silke Kiessling, co-contributor to the study. “Knowing this can improve diagnosis and outlook of type 2 diabetes.”2

Alongside lifestyle, genetics, and obesity, the gut microbiome is an important risk factor for predicting metabolic disorders and nutrition-related diseases. Changes in the microbiome can correlate to changes in the metabolic health of an individual. Gut bacteria are evaluated by taking fecal samples for research purposes.2

The study observed 2 population cohorts, 1 from a German population called KORA, and 1 from an independent population in England called FoCus. In the German population, 1976 individuals demonstrated a positive correlation between oscillations in the number of microbiota members and the abundance of type 2 diabetes among the population. In the independent population, 1363 confirmed positive correlations between microbial oscillations and type 2 diabetes prevalence. An additional 699 individuals from the German population were successfully predicted to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 5 years after the initial sampling.1

In these cohorts, arrhythmic bacteria—those that do not change in the 24-hour cycle—are considered markers for potential disease, and the investigators refer to these markers as risk signatures. A change in the number therefore represents an increased possibility of contracting a nutrition-related disease.2

The study placed special importance on registering the time of day that gut bacteria samples were taken, and posited that changes in the gut bacteria may affect other microbiome-associated diseases, such as Crohn disease or intestinal cancer. Further research is required to verify this, according to investigators.1

The use of cohort studies also warranted future work, as the investigators offered the possibility of re-examining the individuals in the population over time. From these observations, investigators may then be able to ascertain typical signs that lead to future disease occurrences.1


  1. Reitmeier S, Kiessling S, Clavel T, et al. Arrhythmic Gut Microbiome Signatures Predict Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Cell Host & Microbe. July 2, 2020.
  2. Gut bacteria improve type 2 diabetes risk prediction. News Release. Technical University of Munich; July 6, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2020.
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