Specific inulin-type fructan fibers protect against autoimmune diabetes by modulating gut immunity, barrier function, and microbiota homeostasis

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Dietary fibers capable of modifying gut barrier and microbiota homeostasis affect the progression of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Here, we aim to compare modulatory effects of inulin-type fructans (ITFs), natural soluble dietary fibers with different degrees of fermentability from chicory root, on T1D development in nonobese diabetic mice.

Methods and results:

Female nonobese diabetic mice were weaned to long- and short-chain ITFs [ITF(l) and ITF(s), 5%] supplemented diet up to 24 weeks. T1D incidence, pancreatic-gut immune responses, gut barrier function, and microbiota composition were analyzed. ITF(l) but not ITF(s) supplementation dampened the incidence of T1D. ITF(l) promoted modulatory T-cell responses, as evidenced by increased CD25+Foxp3+CD4+ regulatory T cells, decreased IL17A+CD4+ Th17 cells, and modulated cytokine production profile in the pancreas, spleen, and colon. Furthermore, ITF(l) suppressed NOD like receptor protein 3 caspase-1-p20-IL-1β inflammasome in the colon. Expression of barrier reinforcing tight junction proteins occludin and claudin-2, antimicrobial peptides β-defensin-1, and cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide as well as short-chain fatty acid production were enhanced by ITF(l). Next-generation sequencing analysis revealed that ITF(l) enhanced Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio to an antidiabetogenic balance and enriched modulatory Ruminococcaceae and Lactobacilli.


Our data demonstrate that ITF(l) but not ITF(s) delays the development of T1D via modulation of gut-pancreatic immunity, barrier function, and microbiota homeostasis.

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