Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death, which signifies the urgent need for effective anti-atherosclerotic strategies. Gut microbiota-dependent trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is associated with atherosclerosis, and geraniin, a natural polyphenol with various biological activities, might play key role in this process.
We aimed to investigate the pharmacological activity of geraniin in atherosclerosis through remodeling the gut microbiota.
C57BL/6J ApoE mice were administrated geraniin for 12 weeks. The colon contents were analyzed via 16S rRNA sequencing. Pathological staining was performed to evaluate the atherosclerotic characteristics. Cytokine assays detected the levels of plasma inflammatory cytokines. RAW264.7 cells were cultured in vitro and treated with TMAO. Tandem Mass Tag quantitative proteomics analysis and western blot were performed to investigate the effect of TMAO in macrophages.
The plasma TMAO level in mice significantly decreased after geraniin intervention. The predominant intestinal microflora from geraniin-treated mice were Bacteroides (65.3%) and Firmicutes (30.6%). Pathological staining demonstrated that administration of geraniin attenuated atherosclerotic characteristics. After geraniin treatment, plasma levels of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in mice were significantly reduced, and IL-10 levels were significantly increased. Proteomics analysis demonstrated the number of differentially expressed proteins after TMAO administration. In vitro study suggested that the atherogenic effect of TMAO could be attributed to changes in CD36, transmembrane protein 106a, apolipoprotein C1, macrophage scavenger receptor types I and II, and alpha-2-macroglobulin.
Geraniin might be an effective prospective drug against cardiovascular diseases, and the gut microbiota is a potential target to reduce the risk of atherosclerotic disease.

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