Suppression of the gut microbiome ameliorates age‐related arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress in mice
Oxidative stress‐mediated arterial dysfunction (e.g. endothelial dysfunction and large elastic artery stiffening) is the primary mechanism driving age‐related cardiovascular diseases. Accumulating evidence suggests the gut microbiome modulates host physiology because dysregulation (‘gut dysbiosis’) has systemic consequences, including promotion of oxidative stress.
The present study aimed to determine whether the gut microbiome modulates arterial function with ageing. We measured arterial function in young and older mice after 3–4 weeks of treatment with broad‐spectrum, poorly‐absorbed antibiotics to suppress the gut microbiome.
To identify potential mechanistic links between the gut microbiome and age‐related arterial dysfunction, we sequenced microbiota from young and older mice and measured plasma levels of the adverse gut‐derived metabolite trimethylamine N‐oxide (TMAO). In old mice, antibiotics reversed endothelial dysfunction [area‐under‐the‐curve carotid artery dilatation to acetylcholine in young: 345 ± 16 AU vs. old control (OC): 220 ± 34 AU, P < 0.01; vs. old antibiotic‐treated (OA): 334 ± 15 AU; P < 0.01 vs. OC] and arterial stiffening (aortic pulse wave velocity in young: 3.62 ± 0.15 m s−1 vs. OC: 4.43 ± 0.38 m s−1; vs. OA: 3.52 ± 0.35 m s−1; P = 0.03).
These improvements were accompanied by lower oxidative stress and greater antioxidant enzyme expression. Ageing altered the abundance of gut microbial taxa associated with gut dysbiosis.
Lastly, plasma TMAO was higher with ageing (young: 2.6 ± 0.4 μmol L−1 vs. OC: 7.2 ± 2.0 μmol L−1; P < 0.0001) and suppressed by antibiotic treatment (OA: 1.2 ± 0.2 μmol L−1; P < 0.0001 vs. OC). The results of the present study provide the first evidence for the gut microbiome being an important mediator of age‐related arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress and suggest that therapeutic strategies targeting gut microbiome health may hold promise for preserving arterial function and reducing cardiovascular risk with ageing in humans.
Read more: The Physiological Society