A recent study revealed the presence of H. pylori bacteria associated with elevated levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), an important biomarker for blood glucose levels and diabetes. The study found the association was stronger in obese individuals with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).
The results, which suggest the bacteria may play a role in the development of diabetes in adults, are published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and are now available at www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/jid/prpaper.pdf">online.
H. pylori infection of the stomach may be acquired in early childhood, become persistent, and can lead to gastric and duodenal ulcers; these bacteria have also been associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer. Treatment and eradication of these bacteria with antibiotics have cured many patients with ulcers, revolutionizing treatment of this disorder.
In addition, this association was stronger in individuals with a high BMI compared to those with a lower value. The researchers hypothesized that H. pylori may affect the levels of two stomach hormones that help regulate blood glucose, and they suggest that eradicating H. pylori using antibiotics in some older obese individuals could be beneficial. More research will be needed to evaluate the health effects of H. pylori and its eradication among different age groups and in relation to obesity status, the authors noted.
An accompanying editorial points out that while previous studies have addressed the association between type II diabetes and H. pylori in small samples, this study analyzed two independent large national samples of the general population. The editorial authors agreed with the study investigators, suggesting that adults infected with H. pylori with higher BMI levels, even if asymptomatic, may need anti-H. pylori therapy to control or prevent type II diabetes. If the study findings are confirmed, lead editorial author Dani Cohen, PhD, of Tel Aviv University in Israel, noted, they "could have important clinical and public health implications."
Fast Facts:Type II diabetes causes an estimated 3.8 million adult deaths globally.H. pylori was consistently positively related to levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), an important biomarker for blood glucose levels and diabetes.The association between H. pylori and HbA1c was stronger in individuals with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).