Home Health The Impact of Gut Microbiome on Cardiovascular Health and Aging

The Impact of Gut Microbiome on Cardiovascular Health and Aging

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In a large-scale study conducted in China, researchers developed microbial signatures related to age and metabolism using data from over 10,000 participants, which was validated in another cohort of over 9,000 individuals. Their findings, published in Nature Medicine, shed light on the impact of these signatures on cardiovascular disease risk.

The gut microbiome comprises bacteria, viruses, and other microbes crucial for digestion and influencing nerve signaling, immune response, and hormonal regulation.

What metabolic parameters are linked to aging?

Initially, researchers classified 10,207 Chinese participants into five “metabolic multimorbidity clusters” based on 21 metabolic parameters:

  1. MC1: Healthy
  2. MC2: Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  3. MC3: High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  4. MC4: Obesity-related mixed
  5. MC5: Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

Over an average follow-up of 11.1 years, individuals in the obesity and hyperglycemia clusters were 75% and 117% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, respectively, compared to those in the healthy cluster. MC1, MC2, and MC3 clusters were associated with healthy parameters, whereas MC4 and MC5 clusters showed unhealthy associations. These results were confirmed in a cohort of 9,061 individuals over a 10-year follow-up period.

Certain bacteria may influence aging

The researchers also analyzed the gut microbiomes of 4,491 participants from the original cohort and sequenced microbial genomes to identify specific species’ presence and abundance. They found overlapping microbial characteristics among participants in the metabolic multimorbidity clusters.

Furthermore, the study characterized microbial species present in younger versus older individuals’ microbiomes. They developed a gut microbial age metric based on the presence of 55 age-related microbial species, validated using cross-sectional data from Israel, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Older individuals tended to have higher levels of Prevotella and Enterobacteriaceae species, while younger individuals had lower Bacteroides species levels.

Can we leverage the microbiome to prevent heart disease?

The study authors highlighted microbial variations across different countries as a potential area for future research. They also found that a younger gut microbial age correlated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk.

While emphasizing the potential for interventions like prebiotic and probiotic supplementation or even fecal transplantation to modulate the microbiome, the authors stopped short of suggesting these could reverse aging. However, such interventions could potentially enhance health outcomes as individuals age.

This research aligns with evidence linking gut dysbiosis (imbalance in gut bacterial populations) to inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke, and related mortality. Other studies have established connections between dysbiosis and cardiovascular risk factors such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Yet, the fundamental question remains: Does dysbiosis cause these health issues, or do these conditions lead to dysbiosis?