Intestinal flora influences the effects of cholesterol lowering

Intestinal flora influences the effects of cholesterol lowering

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Atorvastatin: Cholesterol-lowering effects are influenced by intestinal flora

A new study has shown that the cholesterol-lowering effect of the drug atorvastatin is influenced by the intestinal flora. The observations could explain why cholesterol-lowering agents work very differently individually.

Diet change and medication

According to health experts, cholesterol is too high in around one in three Germans. An elevated cholesterol level can lead to diseases of the vessels, with possible consequences such as a heart attack or stroke. In order to lower cholesterol, a change in diet is usually recommended. However, according to many health experts, the many years of warnings about eggs and butter no longer apply. Cholesterol-lowering drugs are also often used. However, these medicines are not fully recommended for all patients. They also look very different individually. Researchers have now found a possible explanation for why this is so.

Experiment with mice

As the German Society for Cardiology - Cardiovascular Research (DGK) reports in a communication published by the Information Service Wissenschaft (idw), the cholesterol-lowering effect of a certain statin is influenced by the intestinal flora.

According to the experts, the cholesterol-lowering agent atorvastatin works less well in mice without a natural intestinal microbiome, which are fed very high-fat food, than in animals with a low-fat diet.

A study by a research team led by Friedericke Zimmermann and PD Dr. Arash Haghikia from the Clinic for Cardiology on the Benjamin Franklin campus of the Berlin Charité, which was presented at the German Heart Days in Berlin.

Gut microbiome differs between individuals

"The gut microbiome appears to be involved in the LDL cholesterol-lowering effect of atorvastatin," said study author Friedericke Zimmermann.

"Since the gut microbiome differs between individuals due to genetic factors, diet and other environmental influences, the observations made in our work could help to understand the individually variable cholesterol-lowering effects of statins."

The Berlin research team is currently investigating molecular mechanisms that underlie the microbiome-dependent regulation of statin effects.

In the experimental study, which was published in the journal "Clinical Research in Cardiology", the researchers compared mice with intact intestinal flora with gnotobiotic animals, ie mice that have no germ colonization in the intestine.

The animals were fed a standard diet or cholesterol-rich food, and in some cases they were also given atorvastatin.

Comparison of bacterial strains

According to the researchers, it was found that the LDL-lowering effect of atorvastatin after a high-cholesterol diet was significantly lower in the mice without a microbiome than in the control group.

In the microbiome animals, a comparison of the bacterial strains of mice with high-fat food and those with standard food showed differences, the high-fat fed had more bacteria of the Firmicutes phylum and less of the Bacteroides phylum.

This change was reversed by treatment with atorvastatin.

As the communication says, the new observations could help explain why cholesterol-lowering drugs work differently well individually. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Claire Fraser - The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease (January 2023).