Commensal microbiota within a holobiont contribute to the overall health of the host via mutualistic symbiosis. Disturbances in such symbiosis is prominently correlated with a variety of diseases affecting the modern society of humans including cardiovascular diseases, which are the number one contributors to human mortality. Given that a hallmark of all cardiovascular diseases is changes in vascular function, we hypothesized that depleting microbiota from a holobiont would induce vascular dysfunction. To test this hypothesis, young mice of both sexes raised in germ-free conditions were examined vascular contractility and structure. Here we observed that male and female germ-free mice presented a decrease in contraction of resistance arteries. These changes were more pronounced in germ-free males than in germ-free females mice. Furthermore, there was a distinct change in vascular remodeling between males and females germ-free mice. Resistance arteries from male germ-free mice demonstrated increased vascular stiffness, as shown by the leftward shift in the stress-strain curve and inward hypotrophic remodeling, a characteristic of chronic reduction in blood flow. On the other hand, resistance arteries from germ-free female mice were similar in the stress-strain curves to that of conventionally raised mice, but were distinctly different and showed outward hypertrophic remodeling, a characteristic seen in aging. Interestingly, we observed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation from bone marrow derived neutrophils is blunted in female germ-free mice, but it is exacerbated in male germ-free mice. In conclusion, these observations indicate that commensal microbiota of a holobiont are central to maintain proper vascular function and structure homeostasis, especially in males.
Keywords: Germ-free mice; Sex differences; Vascular contractility.
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