Gut Microbiota and Their Metabolites in Stroke: A Double-Edged Sword

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70 Citations (Scopus)


Besides damaging the brain, stroke causes systemic changes, including to the gastrointestinal system. A growing body of evidence supports the role of the gut and its microbiota in stroke, stroke prognosis, and recovery. The gut microbiota can increase the risk of a cerebrovascular event, playing a role in the onset of stroke. Conversely, stroke can induce dysbiosis of the gut microbiota and epithelial barrier integrity. This has been proposed as a contributor to systemic infections. In this review, we describe the role of the gut microbiota, microbiome and microbiota-derived metabolites in experimental and clinical stroke, and their potential use as therapeutic targets. Fourteen clinical studies have identified 62 upregulated (eg, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Escherichia) and 29 downregulated microbial taxa (eg, Eubacterium, Roseburia) between stroke and healthy participants. The majority found that stroke patients have reduced gut microbiome diversity. However, other nonbacterial microorganisms are yet to be studied. In experimental stroke, severity is dependent on gut microbiome composition, whereas the latter can greatly change with antibiotics, age, and diet. Consumption of foods rich in choline and L-carnitine are positively associated with stroke onset via production of trimethylamine N-oxide in experimental and clinical stroke. Conversely, in mice, consumption of dietary fiber improves stroke outcome, likely via gut microbiota-derived metabolites called short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. The majority of the evidence, however, comes from experimental studies. Clinical interventions targeted at gut microbiota-derived metabolites as new therapeutic opportunities for stroke prevention and treatment are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1788-1801
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • dysbiosis
  • gastrointestinal tract
  • gut microbiome
  • gut-brain axis
  • ischemic stroke
  • short-chain fatty acid
  • trimethylamine

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