Microbial metabolites have a profound effect on the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The cross-talk between the gut microbiota, the nervous system, and immune system is necessary to establish and maintain immune and gut tolerance. As quoted by Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut.” Although this has been recognized for 2,000 years, the connection between the gut and autoimmune T1D is not yet well-understood. Here, we outline new advances supported by our research and others that have contributed to elucidate the impact of microbial metabolites on the physiology of the pancreas and the gut through their remarkable effect on the immune and nervous system. Among many of the mechanisms involved in the gut–beta-cell–immune cross-talk, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-expressing cells are critical players in the development of invasive insulitis. Besides, this review reveals a novel mechanism for microbial metabolites by stimulating IL-22, an essential cytokine for gut homeostasis and beta-cell survival. The close connections between the gut and the pancreas are highlighted through our review as microbial metabolites recirculate through the whole body and intimately react with the nervous system, which controls essential disorders associated with diabetes. As such, we discuss the mechanisms of action of microbial metabolites or short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), IL-22, and GFAP on beta-cells, gut epithelial cells, neurons, and glial cells via metabolite sensing receptors or through epigenetic effects. The fine-tuned gut–neuro–immune network may be profoundly affected by SCFA deficiency related to dysbiosis and diet alterations at very early stages of the initiation of the disease. Thus, dampening the initial immune response or preventing the perpetuation of the immune response by maintaining the integrity of the gut is among the alternative approaches to prevent T1D.
- Beta cells
- GFAP—glial fibrillary acidic protein
- Glial cell
- Gut microbiota
- Interleukin 22 (IL-22)
- SCFA (short chain fatty acids)