New discoveries linking gut bacteria with cholesterol metabolism give hope for the future

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show that cholesterol metabolism is regulated by bacteria in the small intestine. These findings may be important for the development of new drugs for cardiovascular disease.

It is well established that cholesterol is the major risk factor for . Cholesterol – which is mainly synthesized in the body but also obtained from dietary sources – is converted to in the liver, which are then secreted into the intestine and either removed from the body or recycled back to the liver.

The influence of gut bacteria on human health and disease is a rapidly expanding research area. Fredrick Bäckhed's research group is a leader in this field and is investigating how gut bacteria are linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In a study published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism, they show that gut bacteria reduce bile acid synthesis in the liver by signaling through a specific protein, known as the FXR receptor, in the small intestine.

'Drugs that reduce have, in recent years, greatly reduced deaths from cardiovascular disease. Our study is a step forward because we have shown how regulate the formation of bile acids from cholesterol', says Sama Sayin, medical doctor and PhD student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the study's first author.

The FXR receptor not only affects cholesterol metabolism but is also involved in the body's sugar and fat metabolism.

'If future research can identify the specific bacteria that affect FXR signaling in the gut, this could lead to new ways to treat diabetes and cardiovascular disease', says Fredrik Bäckhed, professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, who led the study.

The article 'Gut microbiota regulates bile acid metabolism by reducing the levels of tauro-betamuricholic acid, a naturally occurring FXR antagonist' is published in on February 5.

More information: Cell Metabolism Volume 17, Issue 2, 225-235

Related Stories

The body's bacteria affect intestinal blood vessel formation

Mar 26, 2012

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered a previously unknown mechanism which helps intestinal bacteria to affect the formation of blood vessels. The results, which are ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments