Gut Bacteria, Oscillibacter Could Help Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor, Study Shows

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Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, alongside Massachusetts General Hospital, has discovered that alterations in the gut microbiome could influence various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and potentially cardiovascular disease.

Oscillibacter bacteria consume and process cholesterol

In a study published in Cell, researchers have discovered certain gut bacteria that can consume cholesterol, potentially reducing cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Ramnik Xavier’s lab, Broad’s Metabolomics Platform, and collaborators examined metabolites and microbial genomes from over 1,400 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term project focused on cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The study found that Oscillibacter bacteria consume and process cholesterol, leading to lower cholesterol levels in individuals with higher levels of these bacteria in their gut. They also uncovered the mechanism by which these bacteria metabolize cholesterol. This discovery implies that future interventions targeting the microbiome could potentially reduce cholesterol levels in individuals. Additionally, the study paves the way for further exploration into how microbiome alterations impact overall health and disease.

Researchers have found connections between the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease indicators like triglycerides and blood sugar levels. However, therapy development has been hindered due to incomplete understanding of gut metabolic pathways. A recent study by the Broad team utilized shotgun metagenomic sequencing and metabolomics to analyze stool samples from the Framingham Heart Study, providing a detailed insight into gut microbe impacts on metabolism.

Individuals with Oscillibacter bacteria have low cholesterol

There were over 16,000 connections between microbes and metabolic traits, notably finding that individuals harboring various Oscillibacter bacteria species had lower cholesterol levels. These bacteria were unexpectedly abundant in the gut, comprising about one percent of gut bacteria. To understand how these microbes lower cholesterol, researchers cultivated them in the lab using a unique bacterial library sourced from stool samples.

Researchers discovered that certain bacteria, including Oscillibacter and Eubacterium coprostanoligenes, play a role in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. They found that these bacteria convert cholesterol into intermediate products, which are then broken down and excreted.

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