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Tweaking Gut Bacteria Can Lower Risk Of Heart Disease

Update Date: Dec 18, 2015 11:36 AM EST

The way to the heart is indeed through the gut. In a new study shows that tweaking the gut microbiome can help reduce risk of heart disease.

Using mice studies researchers at the Cleveland Clinic prevented production of a key substance trimethylamine N-oxide or TMAO that is linked with deposition of fat on the inner walls of arteries, the vessels that supply blood, UPI reports.

"Many chronic diseases like atherosclerosis, obesity and diabetes are linked to gut microbes. These studies demonstrate the exciting possibility that we can prevent or retard the progression of diet-induced heart diseases starting in the gut. This opens the door in the future for new types of therapies for atherosclerosis, as well as other metabolic diseases," said study author Dr. Stanley Hazen.

The key to lowering diet-related risk of atherosclerosis is to prevent transformation of choline, lecithin and carnitine, all produced as a result of digestion of animal foods, into TMAO. The addition of a substance called 3,3-dimethyl-1-butanol or DMB did just that. Researchers estimate that the inhibitor, naturally occurring in extra virgin olive oil and grape seeds oil, inhibits bacterial molecular pathway without killing bacteria.

"We were able to show that 'drugging the microbiome' is an effective way to block this type of diet-induced heart disease. The inhibitor prevents formation of a waste product produced by gut microbes, leading to lowering of TMAO levels and prevention of diet-dependent atherosclerosis," said Dr. Hazen. "This is much like how we use statins to inhibit cholesterol synthesis in human cells."

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