Posted on Jul 12, 2017, 9 a.m.
Essential groups of bacteria are found less frequently and appear to be less diverse in the gut of patients with heart failure.
Essential forms of bacteria are less common in the stomachs of patients who have heart failure. The gut flora in these individuals' stomachs is also less diverse than those found in the guts of healthy people. Data procured by German Centre for Cardiovascular Research scientists identified important aspects to help the medical community determine how gut colonization is tied to the development and onset of heart failure.
The Link Between Gut Health and Heart Failure
Scientists have long known that gut health and heart failure are connected. When heart failure occurs, the gut has a lower quality blood supply. The intestinal wall has more girth and is more permeable, allowing bacteria and other harmful components to seep into the blood. Scientists have also determined the composition of the gut bacteria is changed in an array of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. This information served as the foundation for the research conducted by scientists at the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research. This group studied whether and how gut flora alters in the stomachs of individuals who suffer from heart failure.
How the Study was Conducted
The research group studied the gut bacteria in stool samples of healthy people as well as those who suffer from heart failure. The project was spearheaded by University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein Professor Norbert Frey. Professor Andre Franke's research team from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel also contributed. They determined portions of the bacterial genome deciphered the differences in the microorganism. They also found a substantially lower proportion of different types of bacteria are present in the guts of patients who suffer from heart failure compared to the stomachs of healthy individuals. There is a reduction in individual families of bacteria that are particularly important. However, the researchers are uncertain as to whether gut flora is changed as a result of an individual's heart failure or if it is a cause of heart failure.
Important Factors That Alter the Health of Gut Bacteria
Gut bacteria is affected by an array of factors. As an example, a vegan who begins consuming meat will experience changes to his gut flora in about three days. This is precisely why those with extreme diets such as veganism, were not permitted to engage in the study. Rather, the researchers selected those with a standard diet made up of vegetables as well as meat.
Aside from diet, gut flora is also impacted by medication. The study's control group took the same medicines as the patients who suffer from heart failure. Patients were not permitted to consume antibiotics. Those who took antibiotics in the three months prior to the study were not allowed to participate. Smokers were included in each of the groups. Each study participant was from the same geographic area and of similar age.
Cause or Consequence?
The reduction in families and genera of bacteria is indicative of heart failure. This is precisely why the study's results might spur new branches of departure for forms of therapy. The differences between individuals with heart failure and healthy people were spurred primarily by the loss of bacteria of genera known as Collinsella and Blautia. The differences also came about with the loss of two previously unidentified genera belonging to the families of Ruminococcaceae and Erysipelotrichaceae.
Additional research projects have shown the presence of Blautia offsets inflammation. The genus Faecalibacterium is tied to anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yet the reduction is limited to patients who have heart failure. There is a theory that the gut flora allows for systemic inflammation as chronic inflammation accompanies heart failure. Perhaps an altered bacterial profile heightens the risk for heart failure.
Mark Luedde, Thorben Winkler, Femke-Anouska Heinsen, Malte C. Rühlemann, Martina E. Spehlmann, Amer Bajrovic, Wolfgang Lieb, Andre Franke, Stephan J. Ott, Norbert Frey. Heart failure is associated with depletion of core intestinal microbiota. ESC Heart Failure, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/ehf2.12155