Your gut bacteria may be linked to depression, high blood pressure

In a new study, researchers found people with high blood pressure had different gut bacteria compared to people with both high blood pressure and depression.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Florida College of Medicine.

According to the team, people are ‘meta-organisms’ made up of roughly equal numbers of human cells and bacteria.

Gut bacteria ecology interacts with bodily physiology and brains, which may steer some people towards developing high blood pressure and depression.

In the study, the team isolated DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the carrier of genetic information) from gut bacteria obtained from the stool samples of 105 volunteers.

They used a new technique involving artificial-intelligence software to analyze the bacteria, which revealed four distinct types of bacterial genes and signature molecules.

Surprisingly, the team discovered unique patterns of bacteria from people with 1) high blood pressure plus depression; 2) high blood pressure without depression; 3) depression with healthy blood pressure, or 4) healthy subjects without depression or high blood pressure.

The results suggest different medical mechanisms of high blood pressure that correlate with signature molecules produced by gut bacteria.

These molecules are thought to impact the heart system, metabolism, hormones, and the nervous system.

The team believes they have uncovered new forms of high blood pressure: ‘Depressive Hypertension’ (high blood pressure with depression), which may be a completely different disease than ‘Non-Depressive Hypertension’ (high blood pressure without depression), which are each different from ‘Non-Hypertensive Depression.

In the future, health professionals may target the gut in order to prevent, diagnose and selectively treat different forms of high blood pressure.

There’s potential for this research to uncover treatment approaches that could improve outcomes in people with treatment-resistant high blood pressure.

Nearly 20% of patients with high blood pressure don’t respond well to treatment, even with multiple medications.

The lead author of the study is Bruce R. Stevens, Ph.D., a professor of physiology & functional genomics, medicine, and psychiatry.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.

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