This bacterium protects against heart diseases

This bacterium protects against heart diseases

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Health effects of Eubacterium limosum?

A special bacterium in the intestine seems to reduce the risk of heart disease in humans. The bacterium lowers the production of a substance that is associated with the development of clogged arteries.

A recent study by Ohio State University found that the bacterium Eubacterium limosum reduced the likelihood of heart disease. The results were published in the journal Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Trimethylamine production was reduced

The researchers examined how the activity of the bacterium Eubacterium limosum affects the risk of heart disease. They found that this intestinal bacterium reduced the production of a special substance called trimethylamine, which had previously been linked to the development of clogged arteries. After this substance has been produced in the intestine, it enters the bloodstream and liver, where it is finally converted into its most harmful form.

Competition of bacteria in the intestine

The behavior of the bacterium examined appears to be due to a family of proteins. It shows how certain intestinal organisms can be beneficial for human health. In essence, these healthy microbes compete with unhealthy bacteria for access to the same nutrients in the gut. If the healthy bacteria prevail, they can prevent health problems that may arise from the way the body metabolizes food.

Eubacterium limosum soothes inflammation in the intestine

The research group states that it sees potential in Eubacterium limosum for future use for therapeutic purposes. Previous research has shown that the bacterium is healthy because it soothes inflammation in the gut.

Bacteria in the intestine have a significant impact on health

“In the past decade, it has been shown that bacteria in the human intestine affect our health in a variety of ways. The organism we examined affects health by preventing a problematic connection from becoming worse, ”says study author Professor Joseph Krzycki of Ohio State University in a press release.

How is trimethylamine formed?

The substance associated with clogged arteries, which is characteristic of atherosclerosis, is called trimethylamine or TMA. TMA is produced during metabolism when some gut microbes interact with certain nutrients from food. Such nutrients include L-carnitine, a compound found in meat and fish and also used as a food supplement to support recovery after exercise.

What role does a protein called MtcB play?

The research group found that E. limosum interacts with L-carnitine in the intestine in a special way, thereby eliminating the role of L-carnitine in the production of TMA. However, there are other nutrients that are also involved in TMA production in the intestine. The researchers attribute the positive health effects of the bacteria to a protein called MtcB. This enzyme cuts off certain molecules from compounds to help bacteria generate energy and survive.

TMA toxicity is reduced

The process discussed above is called demethylation and also involves the removal of a methyl group (a carbon atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms) to change the structure or function of a compound. The bacterium does this for its own benefit, which means that it reduces the toxicity of TMA.

Prevent formation of harmful connections?

The research group concludes that bacteria can remove a methyl group without forming other harmful compounds. When interacting, L-carnitine acts as a growth substrate, a compound that is consumed so that the organism can live and grow. It also acts as a target for enzyme activity, the researchers explain.

Intestinal bacteria need to be better researched

For the study, E. limosum cultures were fed with a range of potential substrates, including L-carnitine. Only when L-carnitine was offered did the microbe synthesize the MtcB protein to cut the methyl group from L-carnitine. In essence, MtcB is part of the natural process of how the bacteria consume the nutrient. The significant health benefits of one type of intestinal bacteria show that there is still a lot to learn about how bacteria can affect human metabolism and health, the researchers say.

More research is needed

“MtcB is part of a family of proteins with thousands of representatives that can use and modify various compounds that help bacteria consume the nutrients in the gut. These proteins can behave very similar chemically, but the use of different compounds can obviously make major changes in biology, ”adds Professor Krzycki. Further research in this area is already being planned. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Duncan J. Kountz, Edward J. Behrman, Liwen Zhang, Joseph A. Krzycki: MtcB, a member of the MttB superfamily from the human gut acetogen Eubacterium limosum, is a cobalamin-dependent carnitine demethylase, in Journal of Biological Chemistry (published June 22 .2020), Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • Emily Caldwell: How good gut bacteria help reduce the risk for heart disease, Ohio State University (published July 8, 2020), Ohio State University

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