Diets that cause obesity even worse for the heart as we age.

Calorie-dense obesogenic diet (OBD) is a prime risk factor for cardiovascular disease in aging. However, increasing age coupled with changes in the diet can affect the interaction of intestinal microbiota influencing the immune system, which can lead to chronic inflammation. How age and calorie-enriched OBD interact with microbial flora is not very well understood, so this new research using mice is potentially an important indicator.

Growing older and a high-fat diet enriched with omega 6 fatty acids are major contributors to health risks ranging from diabetes to heart failure. Researchers found a calorie-dense, obesity-generating diet in aging mice disrupted the composition of the gut microbiome. This correlated with development of a system-wide non-resolving inflammation in acute heart failure, with a notable disruption of the immune cell profile, primarily the neutrophil-leukocyte ratio. This helped highlight the spleen and heart as an inter-organ communication system with the immune defence system.

It is well established that our diet interacts with our gut microbes to calibrate the body’s immune defence. In this study, young mice fed the obesity-generating diet were able to resolve inflammation after a heart attack, even though their gut microflora had already been altered by the diet. In contrast, in aged mice fed the obesity-generating diet, the heart attack triggered nonresolving inflammation. Such inflammation is associated with heart failure. Even in the young mice, the data indicated that the obesity-generating diet develops an inflammatory microenvironment; with age, the impact is amplified.

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