Gut microbiota, SCFAs, and hypertension

Two 2022 rodent studies from the same research group on short-chain fatty acid effects, beginning with butyrate:

“Maternal nutrition, gut microbiome composition, and metabolites derived from gut microbiota are closely related to development of hypertension in offspring. A plethora of metabolites generated from diverse tryptophan metabolic pathways show both beneficial and harmful effects.

Butyrate, one of the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), has shown vasodilation effects. We examined whether sodium butyrate administration in pregnancy and lactation can prevent hypertension induced by a maternal tryptophan-free diet in adult progeny, and explored protective mechanisms.

Decreased tryptophan metabolites indole-3-acetamide and indoleacetic acid observed in offspring born to dams that received the trytophan-free (TF) diet coincided with hypertension. This suggested that gut microbiota-derived tryptophan metabolites might be an offsetting mechanism, but not a cause of TF-induced hypertension. Considering that TF intervention reduced abundance of Romboutsia and Akkermansia, and many species are able to metabolize tryptophan, further studies linking abundance of bacterial species and concentrations of tryptophan metabolites are still required to identify main tryptophan metabolite producers.

Sodium butyrate treatment during pregnancy and lactation offset effects of maternal tryptophan-deficiency-induced offspring hypertension, mainly related to shaping gut microbiome, mediating SCFA receptor GPR41 and GPE109A, and restoring the renin–angiotensin system. A better understanding of mechanisms behind tryptophan metabolism implicated in programming of hypertension is critical for developing gut microbiota-targeted therapies to halt hypertension.” “Sodium butyrate modulates blood pressure and gut microbiota in maternal tryptophan-free diet-induced hypertension rat offspring” (not freely available) Thanks to Dr. You-Lin Tain for providing a copy.

A second study was on propionate effects:

“Early-life disturbance of gut microbiota has an impact on adult disease in later life. Propionate, one of predominant SCFAs, has been shown to have antihypertensive property.

We examined whether perinatal propionate supplementation can prevent offspring hypertension induced by maternal chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is closely linked to adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, and is reported to affect at least 3%-4% women of childbearing age.

Male offspring were divided into four groups: control, CKD, control+propionate (CP), and CKD+propionate (CKDP).


Perinatal propionate supplementation:

  • Prevented offspring hypertension;
  • Shaped gut microbiota with increases in species richness and evenness;
  • Increased plasma propionate level; and
  • Upregulated renal GPR41 expression.

Results reveal the feasibility of manipulating gut microbiota by altering their metabolites with early-life use of propionate to prevent offspring hypertension in later life.” “Perinatal Propionate Supplementation Protects Adult Male Offspring from Maternal Chronic Kidney Disease-Induced Hypertension”


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