In chronic kidney disease (CKD), cardiovascular (CV) damage is present in parallel which leads to an increased risk of CV disease. Both traditional and non-traditional risk factors contribute to CV damage in CKD. The systemic role of the microbiota as a central player in the pathophysiology of many organs is progressively emerging in the literature: the microbiota is indeed involved in a complex, bi-directional network between many organs, including the kidney and heart connection, although many of these relationships still need to be elucidated through in-depth mechanistic studies.
The aim of this review is to provide evidence that microbiota metabolites influence non-traditional risk factors, such as inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in CKD-associated CV damage. Here, we report our current understanding and hypotheses on the gut-kidney and gut-heart axes and provide details on the potential mechanisms mediated by microbial metabolites. More specifically, we summarize some novel hypotheses linking the microbiota to blood pressure regulation and hypertension. We also emphasise the idea that the nutritional management of CKD should be redesigned and include the new findings from research on the intrinsic plasticity of the microbiota and its metabolites in response to food intake. The need is felt to integrate the classical salt and protein restriction approach for CKD patients with foods that enhance intestinal wellness. Finally, we discuss the new perspectives, especially the importance of taking care of the microbiota in order to prevent the risk of developing CKD and hypertension, as well as the still not tested but very promising CKD innovative treatments, such as postbiotic supplementation and bacteriotherapy.
This interesting area of research offers potential complementary approaches to the management of CKD and CV damage assuming that the causal mechanisms underlying the gut-kidney and gut-heart axes are clarified. This will pave the way to the design of new personalized therapies targeting gut microbiota.