Several small‐scale animal studies have suggested that gut microbiota and blood pressure (BP) are linked. However, results from human studies remain scarce and conflicting. We wanted to elucidate the multivariable‐adjusted association between gut metagenome and BP in a large, representative, well‐phenotyped population sample. We performed a focused analysis to examine the previously reported inverse associations between sodium intake and Lactobacillus abundance and between Lactobacillus abundance and BP.
We studied a population sample of 6953 Finns aged 25 to 74 years (mean age, 49.2±12.9 years; 54.9% women). The participants underwent a health examination, which included BP measurement, stool collection, and 24‐hour urine sampling (N=829). Gut microbiota was analyzed using shallow shotgun metagenome sequencing. In age‐ and sex‐adjusted models, the α (within‐sample) and β (between‐sample) diversities of taxonomic composition were strongly related to BP indexes (P<0.001 for most).
In multivariable‐adjusted models, β diversity was only associated with diastolic BP (P=0.032). However, we observed significant, mainly positive, associations between BP indexes and 45 microbial genera (P<0.05), of which 27 belong to the phylum Firmicutes. Interestingly, we found mostly negative associations between 19 distinct Lactobacillus species and BP indexes (P<0.05). Of these, greater abundance of the known probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei was associated with lower mean arterial pressure and lower dietary sodium intake (P<0.001 for both).
Although the associations between overall gut taxonomic composition and BP are weak, individuals with hypertension demonstrate changes in several genera. We demonstrate strong negative associations of certain Lactobacillus species with sodium intake and BP, highlighting the need for experimental studies