Analyzing bacteria in the gut, researchers have determined that patients presenting with hypertension plus depression may have an entirely different disease than those with hypertension alone, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s 2019 Hypertension Scientific Sessions.
This assessment may one day lead to targeting the gastrointestinal tract as a means to prevent, diagnose, and treat hypertension in patients with or without depression,” Bruce R. Stevens, PhD, professor of physiology and functional genomics, medicine, and psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said during a presentation.
The discovery arose from the Florida team's newly developed machine learning technology involving unique amplicon sequence variants of gut bacterial genes, combined with whole genome metagenomic shotgun sequence analyses of microbiome data from stool samples of 95 volunteers.
“We believe we have uncloaked two new forms of high blood pressure. One mechanism, which we call 'depressive-hypertension', may be a completely different pathophysiological state than 'non-depressive-hypertension', which are each different from 'non-hypertensive depression,’” Stevens said.
“People are ‘meta-organisms’ made up of roughly equal numbers of human cells and bacteria. We have co-evolved with gut bacteria ecology interacting bidirectionally with our bodily physiology and brains. Interactions involving particular bacterial species and their metabolic pathways may steer some people towards developing high BP with depression via brain neuroinflammation of connections between mood and BP regulation brain centers coupled with effects on vascular stiffness resulting from gut metabolites, intestinal epithelium and cardiovascular-renal physiology,” Stevens told Healio.
Gut microbiome metabolism influences personal physiology, Stevens said, noting that for example, the antimicrobial actions of certain antihypertensive and antidepressant drugs can control particular gut bacteria, and thereby impact the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system components which are recapitulated in entirety within the gastrointestinal tract wall.
"The findings help explain how the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and Mediterranean diets benefit hypertension and depression by promoting good-guy gut microbiome ecology that yields cardiovascular benefits to their human hosts," Stevens told Healio. – by Scott Buzby
Stevens, BR, et al. Presentation 019. Presented at: American Heart Association Hypertension Scientific Sessions; Sept. 5-8, 2019; New Orleans.
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.