Posted on Oct 20, 2023, 2 p.m.
Approximately 40% of the global population of adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), which puts them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious health conditions. Research suggests that probiotics may have a protective effect, but there is a limited understanding of why shaping gut microbiota can regulate blood pressure. This study published in mSystems adds two new strains to the list of potential antihypertensive probiotics.
Previous research connects the increasing rates of hypertension to overconsumption of sugar, which likely boosts blood pressure via many mechanisms, including the effects of sugar on the gut microbiome. This study shows hypertensive mice treated with 2 probiotics experienced blood pressure levels returning to normal levels and identifies specific microbes as well as metabolic pathways that may help to explain the protective effect.
"Accumulated evidence supports an antihypertensive effect of probiotics and probiotic fermented foods in both in vitro and in vivo experiments," said computational biologist Jun Li, Ph.D., at the City University of Hong Kong. Her team worked with that of microbiologist Zhihong Sun, Ph.D., at Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, on the study. "So we believed that the dietary intake of probiotic foods would well supplement traditional hypertension treatment."
Over 16 weeks the study tested two probiotic strains on mice that developed high blood pressure after being fed water mixed with fructose. The hypertensive mice were treated with Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus probiotics. During the study period, the researchers measured the animal’s blood pressure every 4 weeks and found that mice that received either of the probiotics showed significantly lower blood pressure than those not treated with the probiotics. Additionally, no difference was found between the blood pressure readings of the fructose-fed mice treated with probiotics and controls that drank water only. According to the researchers, this suggests that this intervention could maintain blood pressure at normal levels.
Using shotgun metagenomic sequencing the researchers found that the high fructose diet led to an increase in Bacteroidetes and a decrease in Firmicutes bacteria in the animal’s gut microbiota, but treatment with the probiotics returned those populations to those found in the control group. The analysis also identified new microbial signatures associated with blood pressure: increased levels of Lawsonia and Pyrolobus bacteria, and reduced levels of Alistipes and Alloprevotella, were associated with lower blood pressure, according to the researchers.
"Probiotics present a promising avenue in preventive medicine," Sun said, "offering potential in regulating hypertension and reshaping our approach to cardiovascular health."
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