The trillions of bacteria that colonize the gut play multiple roles in health and disease. Certain forms of gut bacteria promote diabetes, lead to weight gain, and also play an important part in heart disease. Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Ajit Vikram and Dr. Kaikobad Irani, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, have just published an article with Nature Communications, detailing a new mode of communication between bacteria in the gut and blood vessels. This communication leads to malfunction of blood vessels that can eventually precipitate plaque build-up and lead to heart disease.
The gut bacteria signal through the blood stream to change expression of a class of small RNAs, or microRNAs, in the wall of the blood vessel. These microRNAs then target genes that maintain vascular health. Thus, this remote yet intricate communication between the gut and blood vessels impairs normal and healthy functioning of these vessels.
Drs. Vikram and Irani’s article was published this week and is available here.
For more information about this and other research in the Irani Laboratory, please check out their website here.