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Full NameAssociate Professor John Baugh
Organisation:University College Dublin
- physiology and non-communicable disease
We are interested in chronic fibro-inflammatory diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. We combine patient-oriented studies (eg biomarker discovery), with in vitro and in vivo models of disease.
The goal of this project is to determine the precise composition of the gut microbiota in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and define the link between diet, microbiota, and disease. The overall hypothesis is that dietary patterns associate with alterations in the microbiota that influence systemic inflammatory responses and contribute to aberrant cardiac remodelling (myocyte hypertrophy and fibrosis).
It is largely accepted that the increased incidence of HFpEF is due to prevalent comorbidities, such as diabetes and obesity that promote exaggerated inflammatory responses to insults such as pressure overload (hypertension). Anti-hypertensive trials have been disappointing and we propose that it is essential to target the links between diet, obesity, diabetes, and HFpEF. The key to preventing HFpEF is to make appropriate lifestyle changes. Poor diet (Western diet) has been linked with diabetes, obesity and HF but it is far from clear how diet affects cardiac remodelling. Much research has focussed on the fat composition of diet but our proposal is that the low fibre content of modern diets promotes the loss of “friendly” bacteria in the gut thus reducing the levels of protective immunoregulatory molecules produced. We will use 16s rRNA sequencing, faecal water metabolomics, participant serum metabolomics and an established food frequency questionnaire in order to associate microbiota composition with diet and serum evidence of altered gut microbial activity. Serum metabolites will also be used to confirm dietary levels of certain nutrients. These combined data will be used to select a small number of patients for metagenomics analysis. In addition we will analyse serum inflammatory markers and patient inflammatory cell responses to microbial metabolites such as the short chain fatty acids.
This project will provide evidence that the gut microbiota is a potentially modifiable component of HFpEF that influences systemic inflammatory responses and disease progression.