Gut microbe strains linked to more severe strokes and poorer post-stroke recovery


Globally, about 13 million people experience a stroke each year. Researchers from the Stroke Pharmacogenomics and Genetics Laboratory have linked specific bacteria in the gut microbiome to both stroke severity and recovery.

Scientists believe their findings could aid stroke prevention and improve post-stroke recovery. Past research links the health of the gut microbiome to various diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseaseTrusted Source, Alzheimer’s diseaseTrusted Source, and kidney disease.

Researchers from the Dr. Israel Fernández Cadenas’ (PI) Group Stroke Pharmacogenomics and Genetics Laboratory have uncovered a link between certain bacteria in the gut microbiome associated with more severe stroke and negatively affecting post-stroke recovery.Researchers presented the study on May 4, 2022, at the 2022 European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC).

The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms living within the intestinal tract of humans. ResearchTrusted Source shows these “good” bacteria play an important role in the body’s overall health, including boosting immunity and helping with digestion.

If the gut microbiome becomes unbalancedTrusted Source, it can harm the body. Stress, bad eating habits, and antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome. When this happens, the body becomes vulnerable to diseases, including those related to inflammationTrusted Source, such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.

A strokeTrusted Source happens when blood is not able to reach the brain. If blood flow to the brain becomes blocked, oxygen and vital nutrients cannot get to the brain, which can cause brain cells to die.

Data shows that about 13 million people globallyTrusted Source experience a stroke each year, and about 5.5 million people die from strokes.

Most strokes are ischemic strokes, where plaque builds up in the arteries surrounding the brain, halting blood flow to the brain.A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery near the brain ruptures or leaks, which places extra pressure on brain cells, leading to blood deprivation in the brain.

In this new study presented at the 2022 European Stroke Organisation Conference, a research team led by Miquel Lledós, lead researcher and Ph.D. student from the Stroke Pharmacogenomics and Genetics Laboratory Group at the Sant Pau Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, studied fecal samples from 89 ischemic stroke patients. “The influence of the gut microbiome … is a modifiable risk factor associated with the risk of stroke and with post-stroke neurological outcomes,” Lledós explains.