A compound found in some olive oils and red wines may lower the risk of heart disease by interfering with gut microbes, a new study finds.
In the study – published December 17 in the journal Cell – the researchers used a compound called domiphen bromide (DMB) to target gut microbes in mice. DMB can be found in some red wives, extra virgin olive oils, grape seed oils, and balsamic vinegars. Researchers found that DMB prevented the hardening of the arteries (or atherosclerosis) in mice.
According to Dr. Stanley Hazen, senior author of the study and section head of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, the findings show that atherosclerosis can be suppressed by targeting gut microbes.
DMB slows down the production of TMA, a compound generated by microbes. Gut microbes usually excrete TMA after digesting nutrients like carnitine, choline, and lecithin. The human body then converts TMA into TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide), an organic compound in the class of amine oxides.
Increased risk of stroke and heart attack in humans is linked to TMAO, the researchers found in previous studies. TMAO also leads to risk of atherosclerosis in mice. This may explain why individuals who consume high amounts of foods like egg yolks, meat, and high-fat dairy product – which contain carnitine, choline, or lecithin – are more prone to developing heart diseases, atherosclerosis, or having a stroke.
For the new study, the researchers used mice that were given diets high in carnitine or choline, and that were predisposed to develop atherosclerosis. The DMB treatment prevented the development of atherosclerosis and lowered the levels of TMAO.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that heat disease kills about 610,000 Americans each year, being one of the leading causes of death in the United States. That means that one in every four deaths occurs because of heart disease. There is often a link between atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Previous treatments tried to suppress the enzymes that turn TMA into TMAO, but that only resulted in increased levels of TMA – which lead to a noxious fishy odour – and liver damage.
Dr. Hazen said that DMB did not kill the gut microbes, which means that the bacteria would probably not develop resistance to the DMB treatment.
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