The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Cardiovascular Diseases
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The human gastrointestinal tract is predominantly a bacterial ecosystem (microbiome) that harbors >100 trillion microbial cells, with the highest microbe densities found in the colon. Gut microbes are for the most part codependent, both on one another and on their host, requiring metabolic support from additional members of the community for survival and a symbiotic relationship with the host. For example, gut microbes help with the digestion of nutrients, prevent significant colonization of pathogens, and promote gut immunity, while the host provides a favorable environment for microbial survival.
Gut microbiome changes (so-called dysbiosis) leading to increased long-term susceptibility to disease can originate early in life, similar to traditional risk factors. There is a growing awareness that microbial inhabitants within the host often contribute to global metabolism within the host, and dysbiosis can fuel enhanced susceptibility for metabolic and immunological diseases, sometimes emerging decades later. Indeed, alterations in the composition of the human gut-associated microbiome and accompanying functional changes in metabolism have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several chronic conditions ranging from atherosclerosis and thrombosis to obesity and insulin resistance.
Gut Microbial Involvement in Cardiovascular Disease Pathogenesis
It is increasingly appreciated that gut microbes represent a filter of our greatest environmental exposure: what we eat. It is now clear that we each experience a given meal differently on the basis of our distinct gut microbial communities. Microbial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids are fermentation byproducts of carbohydrates …