ATLANTA — Dr. Jun Zou, a research assistant professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has received a five-year, $2.67 million federal grant to study the link between gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microbiota, and cardiac disease in diabetes.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will be used to explore the role of diabetes-induced alteration of gut microbiota in cardiac disease using a variety of immunological and microbiological techniques.
“One of the major ways that diabetes causes death in those it afflicts is by causing heart disease, but the mechanism by which diabetes drives heart disease remains largely unknown,” Zou said. “Our recent studies suggest a central role for gut microbiota. This project, which will build on this data, seeks to explain how diabetes causes heart disease and develop approaches to prevent it.”
In recent studies, Zou and his colleagues have shown that transplanting microbiotas from diabetic mice to non-diabetic mice didn’t impact glycemic control. However, mice that received the transplanted microbiotas had cardiac dysfunction. The findings provide evidence that diabetic-mediated changes in the intestinal microbiota may impact heart function, regardless of dysglycemia.
The research team theorizes that “diabetes-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis leads to increased gut permeability and translocation of bacteria and their products in a manner that contributes to inflammation and heart dysfunction.”
“Thus, manipulating microbiota may provide a means to prevent cardiac disease in diabetic mellitus,” Zou said.
The project’s main goal is to characterize microbial targets that lead to inflammation and cardiac disease. A second goal is to examine the extent to which diabetes-induced alterations in microbiota result in dissemination of gut bacteria or their products and lead to impaired heart function. The researchers will also explore potential approaches to targeting gut microbiota or gut barrier function therapeutically to lower the risk of cardiac disease with diabetes mellitus, according to the project summary.
“We anticipate the discovery of novel mechanisms by which gut microbiota links diabetes and cardiac disease,” Zou said. “We also expect to develop therapeutic strategies to maintain a healthy intestinal-microbiota relationship that will avoid bacteria translocation and inflammation that leads to impaired heart function in diabetes mellitus.”