David J. Durgan, PhD Department of Anesthesiology Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX

Intermittent Fasting Influences Blood Pressure Through Gut Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David J. Durgan, PhD Department of Anesthesiology Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX

Dr. Durgan

David J. Durgan, PhD
Department of Anesthesiology
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Our lab and others had previously shown that gut dysbiosis is not only associated with hypertension, but actually plays a causal role. For example we have shown in both a genetic model of hypertension as well as an obstructive sleep apnea induced model of hypertension, that transplantation of their dysbiotic microbiota into normotensive recipients induced elevations in blood pressure.

With this understanding our focus shifted to two new questions

1) How can we manipulate the microbiota to improve/prevent hypertension, and

2) What are the signals originating from the microbiota that have the capability to influence host blood pressure?

These questions lead to the experimental design of this study.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: A key finding of our study is that the blood pressure lowering effects of intermittent fasting are at least partially through manipulation of the gut microbiota.

The second key finding of our study is identification of bile acids as key mediators in the microbiota-host cross-talk that is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. While bile acids are synthesized by the liver, they are subsequently modified by the gut microbiota. Thus, alterations to the gut microbiota can alter the host bile acid profile. Using a multi-omics approach we identified a number of bile acids and bile acid modifying bacteria to be significantly reduced in the spontaneously hypertensive stroke prone rat.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There is still much to learn about how our gut microbiota influences our physiology, as well as how disruption of our microbial communities can contribute to disease states. Exciting research is ongoing to understand the mechanisms by which we and our microbes communicate with one another. Understanding these types of interactions may be important in future development of novel treatment approaches for many diseases.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: In this paper we show that bile acid supplementation as well as a bile acid receptor (TGR5) agonist reduce blood pressure and improve vascular function. While bile acids are most commonly associated with GI function, it is becoming increasingly clear that the small fraction of bile acids that reach the systemic circulation can have important roles in host physiology. It is fascinating to find out that bile acid receptors are found on many cell types relevant to blood pressure regulation including endothelium, immune cells, and neurons.

We plan to further explore the roles of these receptors in blood pressure regulation. We would also like to see if bile acids or bile acid signaling is altered in hypertensive patients. If this proves to be the case methods to manipulate the microbiota (e.g. diet, fasting, probiotics) and bile acids could prove useful in the prevention and/or treatment of hypertension.


Restructuring the Gut Microbiota by Intermittent Fasting Lowers Blood Pressure

Huanan Shi, Bojun Zhang, Taylor Abo-Hamzy, James W. Nelson, Chandra Shekar R. Ambati, Joseph F. Petrosino, Robert M. Bryan Jr, David J. Durgan

Originally published18 Feb 2021 https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.318155
Circulation Research. 2021;128:1240–1254

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Last Updated on April 30, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD