Unraveling the environmental and genetic interactions in atherosclerosis: Central role of the gut microbiota

Atherosclerosis. 2015 Aug;241(2):387-99. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.05.035. Epub 2015 Jun 3.


Recent studies have convincingly linked gut microbiota to traits relevant to atherosclerosis, such as insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and inflammation, and have revealed novel disease pathways involving microbe-derived metabolites. These results have important implications for understanding how environmental and genetic factors act together to influence cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Thus, dietary constituents are not only absorbed and metabolized by the host but they also perturb the gut microbiota, which in turn influence host metabolism and inflammation. It also appears that host genetics helps to shape the gut microbiota community. Here, we discuss challenges in understanding these interactions and the role they play in CVD.

Keywords: Germ-free mice; Host-gut microbiota interactions; Mucosal immune system; Polyphenolic metabolites; Systems biology approach; Trimethylamine-N-oxide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Atherosclerosis / microbiology
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Systems Biology


  • Biomarkers