BACKGROUND: Risk factors for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) include hypertension, age, sex, and obesity. Emerging evidence suggests that the gut microbiota independently contributes to each one of these risk factors, potentially mediated via gut microbial-derived metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids. In this study, we determined whether the gut microbiota were associated with HFpEF and its risk factors. METHODS AND RESULTS: We recruited 26 patients with HFpEF and 67 control participants from 2 independent communities. Patients with HFpEF were diagnosed by exercise right heart catheterization. We assessed the gut microbiome by bacterial 16S rRNA sequencing and food intake by the food frequency questionnaire. There was a significant difference in α-diversity (eg, number of microbes) and β-diversity (eg, type and abundance of microbes) between both cohorts of controls and patients with HFpEF (P=0.001). We did not find an association between β-diversity and specific demographic or hemodynamic parameters or risk factors for HFpEF. The Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, a commonly used marker of gut dysbiosis, was lower, but not significantly so (P=0.093), in the patients with HFpEF. Compared with controls, the gut microbiome of patients with HFpEF was depleted of bacteria that are short-chain fatty acid producers. Consistent with this, participants with HFpEF consumed less dietary fiber (17.6±7.7 versus 23.2±8.8 g/day; P=0.016). CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate key changes in the gut microbiota in patients with HFpEF, including the depletion of bacteria that generate metabolites known to be important for cardiovascular homeostasis. Further studies are required to validate the role of these gut microbiota and metabolites in the pathophysiology of HFpEF.
- Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
- Short-chain fatty acids