Today, as it is relatively new frontier within scientific research, the role of the microbiome is up for debate. As scientists grow increasingly more interested in the role of the bacteria colonizing our bodies, many new studies are currently being published on the topic. This scientific investigation has made it quite clear that studying the role of the microbiome can help us understand a vast range of conditions.
One such condition is elevated blood pressure, also called hypertension. Because hypertension is a risk factor for the number one killer worldwide, heart disease, this is an essential focus of research. Not only does hypertension contribute to heart disease risk, but one in three American adults are affected by it.
Furthermore, nearly one in five adults with hypertension is resistant to treatment from medications. There may be many reasons for this, but one is likely dysbiosis or an imbalanced microbial community.
In a study published in the journal Microbiome, researchers in Alaska collected gut bacteria of 196 individuals. They found that persons with diabetes and prediabetes had a reduced level of microbial diversity. Some bacterial species tend to be especially overgrown in the subjects, specifically prevotella and klebsiella bacteria.
Following this discovery, scientists then transplanted fecal matter from humans with hypertension into mice who had no signs of hypertension. Those mice later also developed hypertension. Interestingly, in a different study, researchers transplanted feces from mice without hypertension to those who were hypertensive. The hypertensive mice experienced a reduction in blood pressure post-transplant.
Although the evidence that the microbiome influences blood pressure is accumulating, it is still unclear how. If the link is discovered, it may open the door to probiotics for hypertension treatment.
That said, if the bacteria covering our bodies do influence hypertension, it is likely through several pathways. This is part of what makes it difficult for rescuers to say, for sure, any single factor indeed influences that blood pressure.
In the above video, from John Hopkins Medicine, Jennifer Pluznick, Ph.D. goes into detail about how the microbiome is thought to influence blood pressure.