By transferring the gut microbiomes of adult male mice into young female mice, researchers led by Jayne Danska from the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto report in Science that they were able to stave off the development of type 1 diabetes in those female mice. Additionally, the researchers note that the transfer also affected testosterone levels in the female recipient mice as well as led to metabolomic changes.
As Technology Review's Susan Young adds, many researchers are now working to catalog the human microbiome and how changes to that microbiome may lead to diseases like heart disease and obesity. "Today's study suggests that changes in the gut microbial community have the potential to treat autoimmune diseases, as well," she says.
Indeed, Danska and her colleagues write in their paper that the "commensal microbial community alters sex hormone levels and regulates autoimmune disease fate in individuals with high genetic risk."