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The role of circulating bacterial DNA in cardiovascular disease

42 months
Approved budget:
Dr Sarah Appleby
Dr Rachel Purcell
Professor Chris Pemberton
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Explorer Grant
Lay summary
The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut (called the gut microbiome) have an important role in the normal functioning of the healthy gut, but they can also modify or influence biological functions, which can result in disease. An intact gut barrier limits their escape and ability to do this; but this barrier can be breached, a phenomenon termed ‘leaky gut’. Recent evidence has found that this barrier may be penetrated prior to a heart attack (a leading cause of death in New Zealand). Bacteria can then travel through the barrier, enter our bloodstream, and trigger an immune response which can potentially cause subsequent cardiovascular events. Our project will use cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology to identify DNA from gut bacteria in the blood of patients that have had a heart attack. This work could identify novel therapeutic targets that will reduce the morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.