Gut bacteria can prevent high blood pressure medicine from working, animal study shows

You’ve probably heard that taking your medication is important in lowering high blood pressure, but scientists have discovered one reason why some people’s blood pressure does not go down. New animal research suggests that the gut microbe known as Coprococcus comes can contribute to treatment-resistant high blood pressure.

Previous research has shown that certain gut microbes can alter drug metabolism. In the current study, the gut bacteria C. comes makes the body resistant to a common high blood pressure medication called ACE inhibitors.

“Today, doctors treat resistant hypertension by adding or substituting medications, which can contribute to overdoses, more side effects and noncompliance,” says Tao Yang, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Toledo in a press release. “A better understanding of the relationship between gut microbes and drug efficacy could lead to new treatment approaches for people who don’t respond to blood pressure medication. This could include new drugs or modulating gut microbiota with probiotics, antibiotics and other methods.”

Dr. Yang and his team applied a single dose of the ACE inhibitor quinapril to rats with high blood pressure with different microbial environments. Rats that had a lower gut microbiota load were able to lower their blood pressure with the medication. When researchers analyzed the gut microbiome, they found C. comes was important to treatment resistance.

Further analysis shows that C. comes thwarts high blood pressure medication effects by breaking down quinapril. When the team gave rats both quinapril and C. comes to hypertensive rats, the combination made the treatment less effective than rats that only received quinapril.

“We are still in the early stages of determining the interactions between gut bacteria and antihypertensive medications,” explains Dr. Yang. “However, our current findings suggest that the same drug may not be appropriate for everyone because each person has a unique gut microbial composition with a unique profile of enzymatic activities.”

Future work will involve repeating the experiment but with different types of blood pressure medication and how gut bacteria influence its effectiveness.

The research team presented their findings at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2022 meeting.

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