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Gut pH and blood pressure

Associate Professor Francine Marques, Institution: Monash University

2019 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2020-2021


High blood pressure continues to be a major, poorly controlled but modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular death, and is linked to chronic inflammation. Amongst key Western lifestyle factors, a diet poor in fibre is associated with prevalence of high blood pressure. Prebiotic fibre are types of fibre that reach the gut undigested, where they feed and increase the prevalence of population of bacteria that generate short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are anti-inflammatory. It is emerging that prebiotic fibre might modulate cardiovascular risk factors.

Our preliminary studies show that lack of prebiotic fibre leads to the development of a gut microbes that increases blood pressure, leading to hypertension and its complications. Transfer of these gut microbes to mice that do not contain any microbes recapitulates the fibre-deprived hypertensive phenotype, including cardiac manifestations. In the absence of prebiotic fibre, we found the pH of the gut increases and is associated with higher inflammation. This is dependent of certain pH-sensing receptors.

The overall aim is to determine the role of pH and pH sensing receptors to blood pressure regulation in hypertensive subjects and pre-clinical models.

The findings from these studies could have major implications for managing the burden of hypertension in the future, both through changes to dietary guidelines that change gut pH and via the development of new anti-hypertensive therapies that target changes in pH and pH  sensing receptors-inflammation axis.

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