Scientists use gut bacteria to treat high blood pressure

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Researchers at The University of Toledo have made an exciting discovery: they found that specially modified bacteria living in our gut can help reduce high blood pressure.

This groundbreaking study, published in the journal Pharmacological Research, has the potential to change the way we approach hypertension, a condition that affects many people worldwide.

Understanding Hypertension

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health problem. It’s when the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high.

If not managed, it can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure struggle to control it.

Our gut is home to trillions of tiny organisms like bacteria, which make up what’s called the human microbiome.

These bacteria play various roles in our bodies, and researchers have been exploring how they might affect our health, including our blood pressure.

Dr. Bina Joe, a leading expert in hypertension research, led this study. She and her team wanted to find out if they could use gut bacteria to help people with high blood pressure.

The Engineered Bacteria

In this study, the researchers focused on a specific type of good gut bacteria called Lactobacillus paracasei. They genetically modified this bacteria to produce a protein called ACE2.

ACE2 is a protein that can lower blood pressure by controlling a system in our body called the renin-angiotensin system. This system influences blood pressure by narrowing our blood vessels.

To see if the engineered bacteria could really help with high blood pressure, the researchers conducted experiments using lab rats. They chose rats that were prone to hypertension and couldn’t naturally produce ACE2.

The Results

After giving these rats the specially engineered Lactobacillus paracasei as a probiotic, something amazing happened. The rats started producing human ACE2 in their guts.

As a result, their levels of angiotensin II, a hormone that narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure, went down. And with lower angiotensin II, their blood pressure also dropped.

It’s important to note that the reduction in blood pressure was mainly observed in female rats. While both male and female rats had similar levels of ACE2, only the female rats saw their blood pressure decrease.

Understanding the Gender Difference

The researchers are still trying to figure out why this gender difference occurred. One theory is related to the fact that females have two functional copies of ACE2, which males do not. This means that females may benefit more from having extra ACE2 in their guts.

Dr. Joe is excited about these findings because they show that we can use bacteria in our gut to help with high blood pressure. This could be a significant breakthrough, offering an alternative to traditional medications.

Currently, nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but only a quarter of them have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for serious health problems.

While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of introducing ACE2-producing bacteria into our bodies, this study offers hope.

It demonstrates that the idea of using gut bacteria to treat high blood pressure is not just a theory—it can work.

Dr. Joe believes that this approach could potentially be applied to other diseases as well. For example, it might be possible to use bacteria to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes.

In conclusion, this study opens the door to a promising new way of tackling high blood pressure and potentially other health issues.

It’s a step forward in the exciting field of microbiome medicine, offering hope for better management of conditions that affect many people’s lives.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that could increase high blood pressure risk, and eating eggs in a healthy diet may reduce risks of diabetes, high blood pressure.

For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about impact of vitamins on high blood pressure you need to know, and the powerful link between high blood pressure and a potassium-rich diet.

The research findings can be found in Pharmacological Research.

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