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Endothelial dysfunction: what is the role of the microbiota?
  1. Erwin G Zoetendal,
  2. Hauke Smidt
  1. Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Erwin G Zoetendal, Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen 6708 WE, The Netherlands; erwin.zoetendal{at}wur.nl

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In this issue, Catry et al described a study in which inulin-type fructans (ITF) improved endothelial dysfunction in mice.1 They demonstrated that the supplementation of ITF reverses endothelial dysfunction in mesenteric and carotid arteries of apolipoprotein E (apoE) gene knockout mice that were fed an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid-depleted diet. They further showed that improvement of endothelial dysfunction was accompanied with a change in microbiota composition and key gut peptides.

Endothelial dysfunction is a pathological state of the inner lining of the blood vessels which is characterised by a reduction in vasodilation in response to endothelial stimuli and considered an early key marker of cardiovascular disease.2 Impaired synthesis and release of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelium is considered one of the important mechanisms associated with endothelial dysfunction.

A wide variety of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease have been identified. These include general lifestyle factors such as the typical ‘Western diet’ and smoking, but also disorders, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes as well as chronic inflammation. Increasing evidence indicates that the intestinal microbiota plays a key role in the latter risk factors for cardiovascular disease. A recent study demonstrated …

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