Evidence is accruing to suggest that microbiota-gut-brain signalling plays a regulatory role in cardiorespiratory physiology. Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), modelling human sleep apnoea, affects gut microbiota composition and elicits cardiorespiratory morbidity. We investigated if treatment with prebiotics ameliorates cardiorespiratory dysfunction in CIH-exposed rats.
Adult male rats were exposed to CIH (96 cycles/day, 6.0% O at nadir) for 14 consecutive days with and without prebiotic supplementation (fructo- and galacto-oligosaccharides) beginning two weeks prior to gas exposures.
CIH increased apnoea index and caused hypertension. CIH exposure had modest effects on the gut microbiota, decreasing the relative abundance of Lactobacilli species, but had no effect on microbial functional characteristics. Faecal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations, plasma and brainstem pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations and brainstem neurochemistry were unaffected by exposure to CIH. Prebiotic administration modulated gut microbiota composition and diversity, altering gut-metabolic (GMMs) and gut-brain (GBMs) modules and increased faecal acetic and propionic acid concentrations, but did not prevent adverse CIH-induced cardiorespiratory phenotypes.
CIH-induced cardiorespiratory dysfunction is not dependant upon changes in microbial functional characteristics and decreased faecal SCFA concentrations. Prebiotic-related modulation of microbial function and resultant increases in faecal SCFAs were not sufficient to prevent CIH-induced apnoea and hypertension in our model. Our results do not exclude the potential for microbiota-gut-brain axis involvement in OSA-related cardiorespiratory morbidity, but they demonstrate that in a relatively mild model of CIH, sufficient to evoke classic cardiorespiratory dysfunction, such changes are not obligatory for the development of morbidity, but may become relevant in the elaboration and maintenance of cardiorespiratory morbidity with progressive disease.
Department of Physiology and APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Ireland. APC Microbiome Ireland is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, through the Government’s National Development Plan.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.