Microbial Peer Pressure: The Role of the Gut Microbiota in Hypertension and Its Complications


There is increasing evidence of the influence of the gut microbiota on hypertension and its complications, such as chronic kidney disease, stroke, heart failure, and myocardial infarction. This is not surprising considering that the most common risk factors for hypertension, such as age, sex, medication, and diet, can also impact the gut microbiota. For example, sodium and fermentable fiber have been studied in relation to both hypertension and the gut microbiota. By combining second- and, now, third-generation sequencing with metabolomics approaches, metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids and trimethylamine N-oxide, and their producers, have been identified and are now known to affect host physiology and the cardiovascular system. The receptors that bind these metabolites have also been explored with positive findings—examples include known short-chain fatty acid receptors, such as G-protein coupled receptors GPR41, GPR43, GPR109a, and OLF78 in mice. GPR41 and OLF78 have been shown to have inverse roles in blood pressure regulation, whereas GPR43 and GPR109A have to date been demonstrated to impact cardiac function. New treatment options in the form of prebiotics (eg, dietary fiber), probiotics (eg, Lactobacillus spp.), and postbiotics (eg, the short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate) have all been demonstrated to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure in animal models, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood and translation to hypertensive patients is still lacking. Here, we review the evidence for the role of the gut microbiota in hypertension, its risk factors, and cardiorenal complications and identify future directions for this exciting and fast-evolving field.


Full Citation

Rikeish R Muralitharan, Hamdi A Jama, Liang Xie, Alex Peh, Matthew Snelson, Francine Z Marques, Microbial Peer Pressure: The Role of the Gut Microbiota in Hypertension and Its Complications, Hypertension 2020, 76(6), 1674-1687