Using mushrooms as a prebiotic may help improve glucose regulation.

About a serving of white button mushrooms a day changed the microbiota of mice, producing short chain fatty acids that help manage glucose production. The researchers now want to see whether this reaction works in humans, too, because it could create new ways to help treat and manage diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Image: Patrick Mansell

About a serving of white button mushrooms a day changed the microbiota of mice, producing short chain fatty acids that help manage glucose production. The researchers now want to see whether this reaction works in humans, too, because it could create new ways to help treat and manage diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Image: Patrick Mansell

Team: Margherita Cantorna

Diabetes and prediabetes contribute to severe life-threatening diseases, including heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 million Americans had diabetes or prediabetes in 2017. The average medical expenditures to treat diabetes are estimated to be $7,900 per year. Normally glucose is provided from the food people eat. Insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into the cells. Diabetes occurs when either there is not enough insulin or the insulin that is made is not effective, resulting in high blood glucose levels, which are typically regulated with insulin injections. 

Managing glucose better has implications for diabetes, as well as other metabolic diseases, and Penn State researchers have found that eating white button mushrooms can create subtle shifts in the microbial community in the gut, which could improve the regulation of glucose in the liver. Feeding white button mushrooms to mice changed the composition of gut microbes to produce more short-chain fatty acids, specifically propionate from succinate, which has been shown to change the expression of genes needed to manage glucose production.

A better understanding of this connection between the prebiotic benefits of mushrooms and gut microbes in mice could one day pave the way for new diabetes treatments and prevention strategies for people. The study was conducted on lean mice, but the team is interested in what the reaction would be in obese mice and eventually humans.

Funding

Mushroom Council; American Association of Immunologists; National Institutes of Health; USDA NIFA and Hatch Appropriations

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Using mushrooms as a prebiotic may help improve glucose regulation

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