Intestinal bacteria that “consume” cholesterol identified

Intestinal bacteria that “consume” cholesterol identified


The key to fighting cholesterol could also be found in the intestine, among the crowd of microorganisms that make up our intestinal microbiota. Especially among those of a particular genre, theOscillibacter. There are good indications, in fact, to believe that these microorganisms are able to metabolize cholesterol and, if we were able to exploit their action in some way, we could have an additional weapon for controlling cardiovascular health.

I study

To illustrate all this are some researchers from various institutions in the Boston area, such as they tell from the Board Institute of MIT. Their work, on pages Of Cellcharacterized, from a microbiological and metabolic point of view, the stool and plasma samples of a large sample of people: approximately 1400, coming from the large population study Framingham Heart Study. The researchers then compared the results of this analysis with the cardiovascular health of the participants and were able to find several interesting correlations. Among all these, the one that concerns bacteria of this genus stands out Oscillibacter. Higher levels of these microorganisms are in fact associated with reduced levels of cholesterol, both in the feces and in the blood. But not only that: the abundance of these bacteria was also associated with a notable diversity of the microbiota and a lower amount of triglycerides and inflammatory lipids in the plasma.

The link between the microbiome and cardiovascular health

This is – the authors recall – a new piece in the research that links some characteristics of the microbiome to cardiovascular health, and which adds to what they had already observed a few years ago. In fact, this team has been dealing with the topic for some time: until now it had identified the enzymes of the microbiome capable of metabolizing cholesterol and related genes, without however identifying which bacteria produced them. Now, thanks to simulations and in vitro experiments, scientists have identified several cholesterol metabolites produced by such bacteria Oscillibacter, attributable to different metabolic pathways used to “digest” it. Some of these compounds in the intestine are further metabolized by other microorganisms (such as Eubacterium). The result? “A lowering of cholesterol in the intestine could consequently influence cholesterol absorption and lipid homeostasis in the host – we read in the article – leading to a decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels observed in plasma”.

The implications

To date, all this does not have direct applicability, but it contributes to enriching knowledge about our microbiota and its possible functions. In this particular case, the authors conclude, what they observed could one day lead to the development of strategies which, by exploiting the cholesterol metabolism of the microbiota, allow cholesterol levels to be reduced.


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