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Ambient Ultrafine Particle Ingestion Alters Gut Microbiota in Association with Increased Atherogenic Lipid Metabolites

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Ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure is associated with atherosclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Ultrafine particles (UFP, dp < 0.1-0.2 μm) are redox active components of PM. We hypothesized that orally ingested UFP promoted atherogenic lipid metabolites in both the intestine and plasma via altered gut microbiota composition. Low density lipoprotein receptor-null (Ldlr-/-) mice on a high-fat diet were orally administered with vehicle control or UFP (40 μg/mouse/day) for 3 days a week. After 10 weeks, UFP ingested mice developed macrophage and neutrophil infiltration in the intestinal villi, accompanied by elevated cholesterol but reduced coprostanol levels in the cecum, as well as elevated atherogenic lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC 18:1) and lysophosphatidic acids (LPAs) in the intestine and plasma. At the phylum level, Principle Component Analysis revealed significant segregation of microbiota compositions which was validated by Beta diversity analysis. UFP-exposed mice developed increased abundance in Verrocomicrobia but decreased Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Firmicutes as well as a reduced diversity in microbiome. Spearman's analysis negatively correlated Actinobacteria with cecal cholesterol, intestinal and plasma LPC18:1, and Firmicutes and Cyanobacteria with plasma LPC 18:1. Thus, ultrafine particles ingestion alters gut microbiota composition, accompanied by increased atherogenic lipid metabolites. These findings implicate the gut-vascular axis in a atherosclerosis model.

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