Modifying the gut microbiota can ameliorate hypertensive kidney damage and inflammation

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New research in mice indicates that altering gut microbes can influence the development of organ damage associated with high blood pressure. The results will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2023 November 1-November 5.

For the study, scientists used narrow-spectrum antibiotics to specifically reduce gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria in mice with high blood pressure. Hypertension-related kidney damage and cardiac hypertrophy are reduced by vancomycin treatment (which targets gram-positive bacteria). Polymyxin B treatment (which targets gram-negative bacteria) showed no significant effect. Blood pressure levels for both antibiotic treatments were not significantly different from no antibiotic treatment.

Surprisingly, vancomycin treatment has greatly increased Lactobacilli, which are considered “good” Gram-positive bacteria. When the researchers examined immune cells isolated from the heart, kidney, blood, spleen and intestine of hypertensive mice, they saw many pro-inflammatory immune cell types. Vancomycin treatment reduces inflammation in the kidneys. Polymyxin B treatment did not alter any inflammatory status.

Our study shows that altering the gut microbiota, in this case by oral administration of nonabsorbable antibiotics in a rat model, can reduce hypertension-independent kidney damage and inflammation. In the future, we would like to achieve such effects without antibiotics. Our goal is to further understand and harness the mechanisms underlying these kidney protective effects.”

Moritz Emanuel Wimmer, corresponding author, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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