Quercetin reduces atherosclerotic lesions by altering the gut microbiota and reducing atherogenic lipid metabolites.
J Appl Microbiol. 2019 Sep 11. Epub 2019 Sep 11. PMID: 31509634
AIMS: Epidemiological studies have correlated cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis with lifestyle factors such as sedentary behaviour and a high-calorie diet. Recent studies of pathogenesis have highlighted the significance of the intestinal microbiota and chronic inflammation with respect to both the onset and development of atherosclerosis. This study examined the hypothesis that the oral administration of quercetin to low-density lipoprotein receptor-null (Ldlr) mice would improve gut health by altering the gut microbiota and controlling the levels of atherogenic lipid metabolites and proinflammatory mediators in the intestine and serum.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Mice were maintained on a high-fat diet with or without oral quercetin administration for 12 weeks. Quercetin treatment suppressed body weight gains and reduced the extent of atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic sinus. Reduced malondialdehyde and increased interleukin 6 levels further indicated the protective effect of quercetin against immune/inflammatory responses and oxidative stress.Furthermore, quercetin led to decreased intestinal levels of cholesterol, lysophosphatidic acids and atherogenic lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC 18:1) and an increased level of coprostanol. A phylum-level microbial analysis revealed that quercetin treatment reduced the abundance of Verrocomicrobia andincreased microbiome diversity and the abundances of Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria and Firmicutes. A Spearman analysis revealed negative correlations of Actinobacteria with intestinal and plasma LPC 18:1 and caecal cholesterol levels and of Firmicutes and Cyanobacteria with the plasma LPC 18:1 level.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated the ability of quercetin treatment to reduce lipid levels, as well as the areas of atherosclerotic lesions and sizes of plaques. This treatment also altered the composition of the gut microbiota and decreased the levels of atherogenic lipid metabolites.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Oral quercetin treatment may represent a new approach to mitigating the onset and development of atherosclerosis.