Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT

Pesticide exposure may increase risk of diabetes

Exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides may increase the risk of diabetes1, a new study by biologists at the Madurai Kamaraj University has found, adding to growing epidemiological evidence around this link2.

In mice experiments, the researchers found that rodents fed on organophosphates (OP) for 180 days exhibited a steady increase in blood glucose levels compared to controls. The pesticide got decomposed by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, particularly ascetic acid, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and glucose intolerance.

According to the scientists, a complete gene profiling of gut bacteria of mice exposed to OP shows that genes linked to OP degradation were highly expressed.

The mice study was prompted by their finding that diabetes prevalence among Indian villagers, regularly exposed to insecticides, was three-fold higher than in unexposed people. The role of gut bacteria in mediating pesticide-induced diabetes was confirmed in humans with high level of acetate in the faeces of diabetics.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/nindia.2017.14

References

  1. Velmurugan, G. et al. Gut microbial degradation of organophosphate insecticides-induces glucose intolerance via gluconeogenesis. Genome Biol. 18 (2017) doi: 10.1186/s13059-016-1134-6

    Google Scholar 

  2. Evangelou, E. et al. Exposure to pesticides and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ. Int. 91, 60-68 (2016) doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.013

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Nature Careers

Jobs

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links