While statins have long been known for their efficacy in treating high cholesterol, until recently, there was no evidence on its benefits for the microbiome. Now though, tesearchers have found that obese people who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may be more likely to have healthier gut bacteria than those who don’t.
For their study, researchers from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium used data from the European Union study called MetaCardis to explore the link between cardiovascular disease and gut bacteria. The research project is known for having microbiome data from over 2,000 individuals from Europe across 1,400 variables including medication and body-mass index.
From the 888 samples studied, they found that those with higher levels of Bacteroides 2 (Bact2) enterotype (a certain microbiome configuration) tended to have a higher body-mass index and a higher liklihood of being obese. This is particularly noteworthy as the Bact2 enterotype is associated with inflammation. Previous studies have shown that while 75% of people with inflammatory bowel disease have the enterotype, just 15% of those without it have the condition.
The researchers also found that the pattern of enterotypes in obese people taking statins significnatly differed from those who do not take the drug. While just 5.9% of those taking statins had the Bact2 entereotype, 17.7% of those not taking the drug had the Pact 2 microbiome configuration. These results were repeated when analyzing data from the Flemish Gut Flora Project.
The authors of the study caution that although their findings open an interesting avenue for further research, they should not be taken conclusively. When calculating their results, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors for example were not taken into account. More than this, due to the lack of ethnic diversity in their samples, these results may not apply for different ethnic groups.