Targeting the gut microbiota with inulin-type fructans: preclinical demonstration of a novel approach in the management of endothelial dysfunction

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the beneficial role of prebiotics on endothelial dysfunction, an early key marker of cardiovascular diseases, in an original mouse model linking steatosis and endothelial dysfunction.

Design

We examined the contribution of the gut microbiota to vascular dysfunction observed in apolipoprotein E knockout (Apoe−/−) mice fed an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-depleted diet for 12 weeks with or without inulin-type fructans (ITFs) supplementation for the last 15 days. Mesenteric and carotid arteries were isolated to evaluate endothelium-dependent relaxation ex vivo. Caecal microbiota composition (Illumina Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene) and key pathways/mediators involved in the control of vascular function, including bile acid (BA) profiling, gut and liver key gene expression, nitric oxide and gut hormones production were also assessed.

Results

ITF supplementation totally reverses endothelial dysfunction in mesenteric and carotid arteries of n-3 PUFA-depleted Apoe−/− mice via activation of the nitric oxide (NO) synthase/NO pathway. Gut microbiota changes induced by prebiotic treatment consist in increased NO-producing bacteria, replenishment of abundance in Akkermansia and decreased abundance in bacterial taxa involved in secondary BA synthesis. Changes in gut and liver gene expression also occur upon ITFs suggesting increased glucagon-like peptide 1 production and BA turnover as drivers of endothelium function preservation.

Conclusions

We demonstrate for the first time that ITF improve endothelial dysfunction, implicating a short-term adaptation of both gut microbiota and key gut peptides. If confirmed in humans, prebiotics could be proposed as a novel approach in the prevention of metabolic disorders-related cardiovascular diseases.

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