Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk.

High serum and urine concentrations of TMAO, produced from intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine, may increase an individual’s susceptibility to adverse cardiac events and cardiovascular diseases.

This study investigated the role of phosphatidylcholine in the development of cardiovascular diseases and occurrence of adverse cardiac events. Researchers fed healthy subjects with two boiled eggs and deuterium labeled phosphatidylcholine. The concentrations of choline, betaine, and trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) were measured in the blood and urine of the subjects before and after the administration of oral antibiotics to suppress the activity of intestinal microbes.

Researchers discovered that increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, and stroke), morbidity, and mortality was associated with high plasma and urine levels of TMAO. However, the administration of antibiotics, which suppress the activities of microbes in the intestines, was observed to reduce the concentrations of TMAO in the blood and urine. The findings of this study show that high intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine to TMAO may increase the risk of occurrence of adverse cardiac events and development of cardiovascular disease.

Research Summary Information

  • 2013
  • Tang WH, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Hazen SL.
  • Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland 44195, USA.
  • Yes, Free full text of study was found:
  • Source of funding disclosure found
  • Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and its Office of Dietary Supplements (R01HL103866 and 1P20HL113452). The clinical study GeneBank was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (P01HL098055, P01HL076491, R01HL103931, and R01DK080732) and a Cleveland Clinic/Case Western Reserve University Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR000439). Dr. Hazen was supported by a gift from the Leonard Krieger Fund. Mass spectrometry instrumentation used was housed within the Cleveland Clinic Mass Spectrometry Facility with partial support through a Center of Innovation by AB SCIEX.
  • No potential conflicts disclosure found
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