AI Technique Reveals Dysfunctional Gut Microbiome Bacteria’s Role in Depression and High Blood Pressure (UF Health Newsroom)

AI Technique Reveals Dysfunctional Gut Microbiome Bacteria’s Role in Depression and High Blood Pressure

To solve the elusive medical mystery of why many adults have both high blood pressure and depression, University of Florida Health researchers took a long, in-depth look at one suspected culprit: gut bacteria.

The gut microbiome affects physiology and molecular events throughout the body, including parts of the brain that control blood pressure and depression, newly published findings show.

The gut’s role in the two prevalent, chronic conditions was first explained by a trio of UF Health researchers in September 2019. Now, using a branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, the researchers have zeroed in on the specific bacteria suspected of causing depression coupled with high blood pressure.

It’s a crucial step toward the long-term goal of improving health management and developing novel treatments based on the analysis and manipulation of gut bacteria, the researchers said. The two conditions are sometimes so intertwined it has also led them to coin a new phrase: depressive hypertension. The findings were published recently in the American Heart Journal.

High blood pressure and depression are interrelated in many people, yet unlinked in others. Cardiologists and psychiatrists don’t know why. That can make diagnosis and treatment challenging, said Bruce R. Stevens, Ph.D., a professor of physiology and functional genomics in the UF College of Medicine, and the study’s lead author.

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