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What if Bacteria in Your Gut Could Help Doctors Diagnose and Treat You for Common Health Conditions?

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Probiotics like those found in some yogurts are being tested as treatments for these conditions. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at the University of Florida have found a link between a patient’s gut bacteria and whether they have high blood pressure and depression. 

The team led by UF’s Dr. Bruce Stevens collected stool samples from patients with high blood pressure, depression, or high blood pressure and depression. 

Then they extracted bacteria from the samples and sequenced the DNA.

Stevens says they found specific gut bacteria correlated with each of these conditions.

“We could identify whether they had hypertension alone, depression alone or it turned out that there was a group of people that had hypertension and depression simultaneously and they had a completely different bacterial population in their gut.”

Stevens says they plan on studying how this brain-gut connection works in mice.  

He says they’re also studying how antidepressants and high blood pressure medications with antimicrobial properties work to treat depression and high blood pressure.

He says these results could help gastroenterologists quickly and accurately diagnose patients with these conditions and then treat them using probiotics and a change in diet. 

“We may be able to treat and prevent and diagnose depressive hypertension by antibiotics, by probiotics, by even fecal transplants.”

Stevens says these treatments could be especially useful in patients that are non-responsive to traditional drug regimens. 

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »