Investigating salt hyper-tension in relation to the gut microbiome axis

February 17, 2021
Stethoscope and heart

Nayara Pestana-Oliveira, Postdoctoral Associate working in the laboratory of Dr. John Collister was first author on the paper, "DOCA-salt hypertension and the role of the OVLT-sympathetic-gut microbiome axis," published in Clinical and Expirimental Pharmacology and Physiology.

This paper investigates the relationship between changes in the gut microbiome and concominant hypertension, which is a multifaceted condition influenced by genetic and environmental factors and estimated to cause 9.4 million deaths globally every year.

Recently, there has been growing interest in understanding the gut microbe-host interaction in the maintenance of health or disease states, but relatively few studies have shown an association between the gut microbiome and specific types of hypertension. The deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt model of hypertension in rats is known to have a neurogenic component linked to increased sympathetic nervous system activity. As such, our lab has recently shown the hypertensive response in DOCA treated rats requires an intact organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT), a central hypothalamic circumventricular organ. Currently, we hypothesize the OVLT mediates changes in the gut microbiome associated with concomitant hypertension. Herein, we report that the hypertensive effects of DOCA-salt treatment were significantly attenuated throughout the 24-hour day/night cycle in OLVT lesioned rats on days 1, 3, and 9-21 of DOCA treatment compared with sham rats. Increased blood pressure (BP) in DOCA-salt treated rats was accompanied by specific changes in regional gut microbial populations yet was mitigated and offset by lesion of the OVLT. Furthermore, bacterial populations in OVLT-lesioned rats with attenuated hypertension more closely resembled those in normal control rats. We conclude that DOCA-salt hypertension is associated with specific microbiome changes in the gut, and the attenuated hypertensive effects of DOCA-salt in OVLT-lesioned rats is mediated in part through counteracting changes in these bacterial populations.