Elevated levels of circulating DNA in cardiovascular disease patients: metagenomic profiling of microbiome in the circulation

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 18;9(8):e105221. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105221. eCollection 2014.


Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. An expanding body of evidence supports the role of human microbiome in the establishment of CVDs and, this has gained much attention recently. This work was aimed to study the circulating human microbiome in CVD patients and healthy subjects. The levels of circulating cell free DNA (circDNA) was higher in CVD patients (n = 80) than in healthy controls (n = 40). More specifically, the relative levels of circulating bacterial DNA and the ratio of 16S rRNA/β-globin gene copy numbers were higher in the circulation of CVD patients than healthy individuals. In addition, we found a higher circulating microbial diversity in CVD patients (n = 3) in comparison to healthy individuals (n = 3) by deep shotgun sequencing. At the phylum level, we observed a dominance of Actinobacteria in CVD patients, followed by Proteobacteria, in contrast to that in healthy controls, where Proteobacteria was predominantly enriched, followed by Actinobacteria. The circulating virome in CVD patients was enriched with bacteriophages with a preponderance of Propionibacterium phages, followed by Pseudomonas phages and Rhizobium phages in contrast to that in healthy individuals, where a relatively greater abundance of eukaryotic viruses dominated by Lymphocystis virus (LCV) and Torque Teno viruses (TTV) was observed. Thus, the release of bacterial and viral DNA elements in the circulation could play a major role leading to elevated circDNA levels in CVD patients. The increased circDNA levels could be either the cause or consequence of CVD incidence, which needs to be explored further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / microbiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / virology
  • DNA / blood*
  • DNA, Bacterial / blood
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metagenomics
  • Middle Aged
  • Propionibacterium / genetics
  • Proteobacteria / genetics
  • Pseudomonas Phages / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / blood
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Young Adult
  • beta-Globins / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • beta-Globins
  • DNA

Grant support

The study was financially supported by the Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi (No./PR13253GBD/27/237/2009 & 11-12-2009). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.