The Gut Microbiome Contributes to Atherosclerosis


A new study published by researchers at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute has shown a link between the gut microbiome and atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis and the gut microbiome

During the study, the team examined blood levels of metabolic products in the gut microbiomes of 316 people from three groups: those with regular levels of plaque for their age, those who had low levels of plaque despite being at high risk, and those who had unusually high levels of plaque.

They discovered that in the patients with unusually high levels of plaque, there were significantly higher blood levels of harmful metabolic products. Specifically, these were the metabolites TMAO, p-cresyl sulfate, p-cresyl glucuronide, and phenylacetylglutamine, which are created by gut bacteria. They also assessed the development of plaques in the arteries via carotid ultrasound.

The unusual amounts of plaque could not be explained by poor diet or kidney function, but there was a difference in the gut microbiome between these patients and those with lower plaque levels. The gut microbiome has been seen much interest in recent years, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the diversity and types of bacteria in the gut microbiome play an important role in aging and disease development.

Abstract Background and aims: There is increasing awareness that the intestinal microbiome plays an important role in human health. We investigated its role in the burden of carotid atherosclerosis, measured by ultrasound as total plaque area.


The results of this study strongly support the role that the gut microbiome plays in a person’s risk for developing atherosclerosis. This also opens up potential avenues to treat this disease, such as using probiotics and other approaches to repopulate the gut microbiome and reduce populations of harmful bacteria to lower levels.


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[1] Bogiatzi, C., Gloor, G., Allen-Vercoe, E., Reid, G., Wong, R. G., Urquhart, B. L., … & Spence, J. D. (2018). Metabolic products of the intestinal microbiome and extremes of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis.

About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.