Published in ESC Heart Failure, Open Access Journal, 21st April, 2017
In spite of current medical treatment approaches, mortality of chronic heart failure (HF) remains high and novel treatment modalities are thus urgently needed. A recent theory proposes a possible impact of the intestinal microbiome on the incidence and clinical course of heart failure. This study sought to systematically investigate, if there are specific changes of the intestinal microbiome in heart failure patients.
Methods and results
The intestinal microbiome of 20 patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction due to ischemic or dilated cardiomyopathy was investigated by applying high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Microbial profiles were compared to those of matched controls in which heart failure was ruled out by clinical assessment and NT-proBNP serum levels (n = 20). According to the Shannon diversity index (which measures the intra-individual alpha-diversity) based on the distribution of operational taxonomic units (OTUs), HF cases showed a nominally significantly lower diversity index compared to controls (Pnom. = 0.01), and testing for genera abundance showed a tendency towards a decreased alpha diversity of HF patients. Beta-diversity measures (inter-individual diversity) revealed a highly significant separation of HF cases and controls, (e.g. Pweighted UniFracv = 0.004). Assessing the individual abundance of core measurable microbiota (CMM), a significant decrease of Coriobacteriaceae, Erysipelotrichaceae and Ruminococcaceae was observed on the family level. In line with that, Blautia, Collinsella, uncl. Erysipelotrichaceae and uncl. Ruminococcaceae showed a significant decrease in HF cases compared to controls on the genus level.
Heart failure patients showed a significantly decreased diversity of the intestinal microbiome as well as a downregulation of key intestinal bacterial groups. Our data point to an altered intestinal microbiome as a potential player in the pathogenesis and progression of heart failure.