Hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and accounts for approximately 9.4 million deaths globally every year. Hypertension is a complex entity, which is influenced by genetic and environmental factors, such as physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, stress, diet and why not the microbiome.
We searched PubMed using the words ‘microbiome’, ‘microbiota’ and ‘hypertension’ until December 2018. We found information regarding the role of the brain–gut--bone marrow axis, the brain–gut--kidney axis, the high-salt diet, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), neurotransitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, nitric oxide, endothelin and steroids in modulating gut microbiota and in contributing to the pathogenesis of hypertension. The brain--gut--bone marrow axis refers to the hypothesis that hematopoietic stem cells might migrate to the brain or to the gut, and thus, contribute to local inflammation and several immune responses. This migration may further enhance the sympathetic activity and contribute to blood pressure elevation. On the other hand, SCFAs, such as acetate and butyrate, have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects on myeloid and intestinal epithelial cells. Also, researchers have noted diminution in microbial richness and diversity in hypertensive patients as well as marked differences in circulating inflammatory cells in hypertensive patients, when compared with controls. In addition, activation of renal sympathetic nerve activity might directly influence renal physiology, by altering body fluid balance and plasma metabolite secretion and retention. These events culminate in the development of chronic kidney disease and hypertension.
There is a long way ahead regarding the role of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis and as an adjunctive treatment of hypertension. Treatment of dysbiosis could be a useful therapeutic approach to add to traditional antihypertensive therapy. Manipulating gut microbiota using prebiotics and probiotics might prove a valuable tool to traditional antihypertensives.