This study investigated the role of gut microbiota in atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attack and stroke.
316 patients attending vascular prevention clinics in Canada were divided into three distinct phenotypes; (i) 98 patients with much less carotid plaque than predicted by traditional risk factors (Protected), (ii) 138 patients with plaque levels as predicted by traditional risk factors (Explained) and (iii) 80 patients with high levels of plaque than predicted by traditional risk factors (Unexplained). The blood plasma levels of specific gut microbial metabolic products that accumulate in renal failure were determined.
Patients with the Unexplained phenotype had significantly higher plasma levels of trimethylamine n-oxide, p-cresyl sulfate, p-cresyl glucuronide, and phenylacetylglutamine, while levels of these toxic metabolites were lower in patients with the Protected phenotype. These differences could not be explained by diet or renal function. The trimethylamine n-oxide and p-cresyl sulfate were significant independent predictors of plaque burden.
These findings provide possible novel strategies in the management of atherosclerosis, including the use of probiotics, synbiotics, fecal transplantation or repopulation of the gut microbiota.
Link: View the Study
Reference: Bogiatzi C et al. Metabolic products of the intestinal microbiome and extremes of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis. 2018; 273:91-97