Objective: Gut microbiota is a newly identified risk factor for stroke, and there are no large prospective studies linking the baseline gut microbiome to long-term risk of stroke. We present here the correlation between the gut microbiota and stroke risk in people with no prior stroke history.
Methods: A total of 141 participants aged ≥60 years without prior history of stroke were recruited and divided into low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk groups based on known risk factors and whether they were suffering from chronic diseases. The composition of their gut microbiomes was compared using 16S rRNA gene amplicon next-generation-sequencing and Quantitative Insights into Microbial Ecology (QIIME) analysis. Levels of fecal short-chain fatty acids were measured using gas chromatography.
Results: We found that opportunistic pathogens (e.g., Enterobacteriaceae and Veillonellaceae) and lactate-producing bacteria (e.g., Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) were enriched, while butyrate-producing bacteria (e.g., Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae) were depleted, in the high-risk group compared to the low-risk group. Butyrate concentrations were also lower in the fecal samples obtained from the high-risk group than from the low-risk group. The concentrations of other short-chain fatty acids (e.g., acetate, propionate, isobutyrate, isovalerate, and valerate) in the gut were comparable among the three groups.
Conclusion: Participants at high risk of stroke were characterized by the enrichment of opportunistic pathogens, low abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria, and reduced concentrations of fecal butyrate. More researches into the gut microbiota as a risk factor in stroke should be carried out in the near future.