In a major Swedish study, researchers have discovered a link between the levels of certain bacteria living in the gut and coronary atherosclerotic plaques. Such atherosclerotic plaques, which are formed by the build-up of fatty and cholesterol deposits, constitute a major cause of heart attacks. The study was led by researchers at Uppsala and Lund University and the findings have now been published in the scientific journal Circulation.
Advancements in technology have enabled large-scale deep characterisation of bacterial communities in biological samples by sequencing the DNA content and comparing it to known bacteria sequences. Additionally, improvements in imaging techniques have enabled the detection and measurement of early changes in the small vessels of the heart. The SCAPIS study represents one of the largest collections in the world of both these kinds of data. In this study, scientists investigated the links between the gut microbiota and the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries of the heart.
Sergi Sayols-Baixeras, lead author from Uppsala University.
The research team also found that some of the species linked to the build-up of fatty deposits in heart arteries were linked to the levels of the same species in the mouth. This was measured using faecal and saliva samples collected from the Malmö Offspring Study and Malmö Offspring Dental Study. Furthermore, these bacteria were associated with inflammation markers in the blood, even after accounting for differences in diet and medication between the participants who carried the bacteria and those who did not.