A Pilot Gut Microbiome study to evaluate TEDDY Infectious Agents

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Type 1 Diabetes mellitus (T1D) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a loss of function of insulin producing beta cells in pancreatic islets of langerhans leading to insulin insufficiency. Published studies have suggested that T1D results from environmental triggers acting on genetically susceptible individuals and that microbial infection and their immunological consequences are suspected to take part in the pathogenesis. Altered microbial diversity in the gut microbiota has been shown to trigger an abnormal mucosal immune response to further the progression of T1D.

The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study investigates genetic and genetic-environmental interactions, including gestational infection or other gestational events, childhood infections or other environmental factors after birth, in relation to the development of prediabetic islet autoimmunity and T1D. Emerging evidence suggests that interactions between immunological, genetic, and environmental factors have a crucial role in the onset of T1D. Currently a TEDDY pilot study is ongoing at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) since March 2011 to investigate the prokaryotic and viral species within a small sub-set in the TEDDY cohort. The goal of the pilot study is to successfully demonstrate the use of high-throughput metagenomic sequencing technologies to characterize the gut microbiome and virome in this cohort.

We have analyzed samples from registries of patient cohorts available through the TEDDY study to describe the characteristic differences of the microbial communities between healthy individuals and T1D patients. Using a combination of high throughput methods, we have been able to assess the ecology of microbes and functional pathways in these communities to correlate microbial and functional abundances of the gut microbiome with host genotype/phenotype.