Microbiota Introduced to Germ-Free Rats Restores Vascular Contractility and Blood Pressure Article (Web of Science)


  • Commensal gut microbiota are strongly correlated with host hemodynamic homeostasis but only broadly associated with cardiovascular health. This includes a general correspondence of quantitative and qualitative shifts in intestinal microbial communities found in hypertensive rat models and human patients. However, the mechanisms by which gut microbes contribute to the function of organs important for blood pressure (BP) control remain unanswered. To examine the direct effects of microbiota on BP, we conventionalized germ-free (GF) rats with specific pathogen-free rats for a short-term period of 10 days, which served as a model system to observe the dynamic responses when reconstituting the holobiome. The absence of microbiota in GF rats resulted with relative hypotension compared with their conventionalized counterparts, suggesting an obligatory role of microbiota in BP homeostasis. Hypotension observed in GF rats was accompanied by a marked reduction in vascular contractility. Both BP and vascular contractility were restored by the introduction of microbiota to GF rats, indicating that microbiota could impact BP through a vascular-dependent mechanism. This is further supported by the decrease in actin polymerization in arteries from GF rats. Improved vascular contractility in conventionalized GF rats, as indicated through stabilized actin filaments, was associated with an increase in cofilin phosphorylation. These data indicate that the vascular system senses the presence (or lack of) microbiota to maintain vascular tone via actin polymerization. Overall, these results constitute a fundamental discovery of the essential nature of microbiota in BP regulation.


  • Joe, Bina
  • McCarthy, Cameron G.
  • Edwards, Jonnelle M.
  • Chakraborty, Saroj
  • Yang, Tao
  • Golonka, Rachel M.
  • Mell, Blair
  • Yeo, Ji-Youn
  • Bearss, Nicole R.
  • Furtado, Janara
  • Saha, Piu
  • Yeoh, Beng San
  • Kumar, Matam Vijay

publication date

  • 2020

published in

number of pages

  • 8

start page

  • 1847

end page

  • 1855


  • 76


  • 6