BOSTON — The compound trimethylamine N-oxide, abundant in red meat and formed by gut microbes, has been associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis, Stanley L. Hazen, MD, PhD, said at the Cardiometabolic Health Congress.
There have been large-scale clinical studies and meta-analyses showing that patients with high levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) are at increased risk for CVD.
“What we now realize is that heart disease is multifactorial and is caused not only by our genetic predisposition but also environmental factors,” Hazen, head of the Section for Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation, director for the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention, director of the Cleveland Clinic Mass Spectrometry Core Facilities, department chair in the department of cell biology and section head in the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said. “The single largest environment exposure we have is what we eat and we experience the food we eat through the filter of our gut microbiome.”
According to Hazen, a Cardiology Today Editorial Board Member, vegans, vegetarians and those who adhere to a Mediterranean diet had significantly lower levels of TMAO.
“We think that TMAO is not only a mediator, but also a biomarker for disease,” he said. “The test is currently in clinical use in a limited capacity and in the future, we think that this will become a target for therapeutic treatment of patients at risk for CVD or with CVD as a prevention for further progression of their disease.”