Global Technology - April 2019

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Now, let’s examine the most important technological and scientific breakthroughs emerging from labs around the world. 

New University of Colorado Boulder research has identified a surprising new explanation for why blood vessels naturally stiffen and degrade as we age, boosting cardiovascular disease risk.  The study published recently in The Journal of Physiology is the first to show that changes in the gut microbiome during aging have an adverse impact on vascular health.  More importantly, it opens up a whole new avenue of potential interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

During the study, the researchers gave young mice and old mice broad-spectrum antibiotics which killed off the majority of bacteria living in their gut microbiome.  Then they assessed the health of the inner lining of their blood vessels and the stiffness of their large arteries.  They also measured blood levels of inflammatory compounds, tissue-damaging free-radicals, antioxidants and the blood-vessel-expanding compound nitric oxide in both groups.

After three to four weeks of the treatment, the young mice saw no change in vascular health.  The old mice, however, saw vast improvements on all measures.  In short, when they suppressed the microbiome of the old mice, their vascular health was restored to that of young mice.  This suggests there is something about those microorganisms that is causing vascular dysfunction.”

To assess what that something may be, the researchers then took fecal samples from another set of mice and had them genetically sequenced, comparing the gut bacteria living in the old mice with that in the young.

In general, in the old mice, they saw an increased prevalence of microbes that are pro-inflammatory.  For instance, the old mice hosted significantly more Proteobacteria, a phyla that includes Salmonella and other pathogens, as well as pro-inflammatory Desulfovibrio.

How does this apply to humans?  As early as 45, the risk of cardiovascular disease begins to creep up.  By age 60 to 79, 70 percent of people in the United States have it.  After age 80, fewer than one in five are free of it.

Scientists have long known that oxidative stress and inflammation are involved in making...

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