Does a gluten-free diet protect mice from Type I diabetes?


Image: Madeleine Price BallA study recently published in PLOS ONE provides evidence that type I diabetes is more frequent and occurs earlier in mice on a gluten-containing diet.  

Key terms:

T1D – Type I diabetes

NOD mice - non-obese diabetic mice

microbiota, microbiome – symbiotic microbes, in this case, the ones in our gut

The key statements from the study's conclusions are highlighted:

"Based on this observation and our findings, we could propose that gluten could contribute to the pathogenesis of T1D in the NOD mouse by decreasing Akkermansia, a genus of GIT microbiota that protects against T1D."

"Alternatively, gluten-containing diets may promote 'pathogenic or diabetogenic' bacteria."

"Further experiments are needed to prove these possibilities."

"In conclusion, we have shown that gluten-free diets significantly delay the onset as well as reduce the overall incidence of spontaneous T1D in NOD mice."

"Gut microbiomes from mice fed gluten-free diets was distinct from those of mice fed diabetogenic, gluten-containing diets.Therefore, gluten could contribute to the pathogenesis of T1D by modulating the gut microflora."


Low Incidence of Spontaneous Type 1 Diabetes in Non-Obese Diabetic Mice Raised on Gluten-Free Diets Is Associated with Changes in the Intestinal Microbiome

The study was performed by a team of researchers from:

  • Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota,
  • Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, 
  • Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, 
  • Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, 
  • Department of Animal & Range Sciences, College of Agriculture, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota