Intestinal microbiota determine severity of myocardial infarction in rats

FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1727-35. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-197921. Epub 2012 Jan 12.


Signals from the intestinal microbiota are important for normal host physiology; alteration of the microbiota (dysbiosis) is associated with multiple disease states. We determined the effect of antibiotic-induced intestinal dysbiosis on circulating cytokine levels and severity of ischemia/reperfusion injury in the heart. Treatment of Dahl S rats with a minimally absorbed antibiotic vancomycin, in the drinking water, decreased circulating leptin levels by 38%, resulted in smaller myocardial infarcts (27% reduction), and improved recovery of postischemic mechanical function (35%) as compared with untreated controls. Vancomycin altered the abundance of intestinal bacteria and fungi, measured by 16S and 18S ribosomal DNA quantity. Pretreatment with leptin (0.12 μg/kg i.v.) 24 h before ischemia/reperfusion abolished cardioprotection produced by vancomycin treatment. Dahl S rats fed the commercially available probiotic product Goodbelly, which contains the leptin-suppressing bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, also resulted in decreased circulating leptin levels by 41%, smaller myocardial infarcts (29% reduction), and greater recovery of postischemic mechanical function (23%). Pretreatment with leptin (0.12 μg/kg i.v.) abolished cardioprotection produced by Goodbelly. This proof-of-concept study is the first to identify a mechanistic link between changes in intestinal microbiota and myocardial infarction and demonstrates that a probiotic supplement can reduce myocardial infarct size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Drinking Water
  • Humans
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Metagenome / drug effects*
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / pathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Dahl
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Drinking Water
  • Leptin
  • Vancomycin