Can intestinal microbiota and circulating microbial products contribute to pulmonary arterial hypertension?

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2019 Nov 1;317(5):H1093-H1101. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00416.2019. Epub 2019 Sep 6.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease with a median survival of only 5-7 yr. PAH is characterized by remodeling of the pulmonary vasculature causing reduced pulmonary arterial compliance (PAC) and increased pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), ultimately resulting in right ventricular failure and death. Better therapies for PAH will require a paradigm shift in our understanding of the early pathophysiology. PAC decreases before there is an increase in the PVR. Unfortunately, present treatment has little effect on PAC. The loss of compliance correlates with extracellular matrix remodeling and fibrosis in the pulmonary vessels, which have been linked to chronic perivascular inflammation and immune dysregulation. However, what initiates the perivascular inflammation and immune dysregulation in PAH is unclear. Alteration of the gut microbiota composition and function underlies the level of immunopathogenic involvement in several diseases, including atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and depression, among others. In this review, we discuss evidence that raises the possibility of an etiologic role for changes in the gut and circulating microbiome in the initiation of perivascular inflammation in the early pathogenesis of PAH.

Keywords: dysbiosis; endotoxin; heart failure; inflammation; short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arterial Pressure*
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Dysbiosis
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / blood
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / immunology
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / microbiology*
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Artery / immunology
  • Pulmonary Artery / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Artery / microbiology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction


  • Inflammation Mediators