Several studies have suggested negative effects of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) on the circulatory system. However, a number of studies have shown protective functions of TMAO, a piezolyte and osmolyte, in animals exposed to high hydrostatic and/or osmotic stress. We evaluated the effects of TMAO treatment on the development of hypertension and its complications in male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) maintained on water (SHR-Water) and SHRs drinking TMAO water solution from weaning (SHR-TMAO). Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were used as normotensive controls to discriminate between age-dependent and hypertension-dependent changes. Telemetry measurements of blood pressure were performed in rats between the 7th and 16th weeks of life. Anesthetized rats underwent echocardiographic, electrocardiographic, and direct left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP) measurements. Hematoxylin and eosin as well as van Gieson staining for histopathological evaluation were performed. Plasma TMAO measured by chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry was significantly higher in the SHR-Water group compared with the WKY group (~20%). TMAO treatment increased plasma TMAO by four-to fivefold and did not affect the development of hypertension in SHRs. Sixteen-week-old rats in the SHR-Water and SHR-TMAO groups (12-wk TMAO treatment) showed similar blood pressures, angiopathy, and cardiac hypertrophy. However, the SHR-TMAO group had lower plasma NH2-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, LVEDP, and cardiac fibrosis. In contrast to age-matched WKY rats, 60-wk-old SHRs showed hypertensive angiopathy and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Compared with the SHR-Water group, the SHR-TMAO group (56-wk TMAO treatment) showed significantly lower plasma NH2-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide and vasopressin, significantly lower LVEDP, and cardiac fibrosis. In conclusion, a four-to fivefold increase in plasma TMAO does not exert negative effects on the circulatory system. In contrast, increased dietary TMAO seems to reduce diastolic dysfunction in pressure-overloaded hearts in rats.
Huc, T., Drapala, A., Gawrys, M., Konop, M., Bielinska, K., Zaorska, E., … Ufnal, M. (2018). Chronic, low-dose TMAO treatment reduces diastolic dysfunction and heart fibrosis in hypertensive rats. American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 315(6), H1805–H1820. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.00536.2018