Scientists have discovered that a bacterium E limosum, has the ability to reduce atherosclerosis and heart disease risk through its production of a protein MtcB which can demethylate TMA.
Researchers from Ohio State University have clarified the specific action of a previously identified helpful bacterium, Eubacterium limosum, that calms inflammation in the gut.
TMA, trimethylamine, is an inflammatory compound turned by enzymes in the liver into dangerous TMAO – the latter is found in higher levels in the blood of people with heart disease.
TMA is found in higher levels in people who consume more choline (eggs, chicken fat, processed meats) and saturated fat such as coconut oil.
Another compound of concern is L-carnaitine, which is found in meat and fish but is also a supplement to improve recovery after exercise. L-carnitine can also increase levels of TMA.
The Eubacterium limosum bacterium produces a protein as part of its normal metabolism. Called MtcB, and a member of the so called ‘Superfamily’ MttB of helpful bacteria, this causes demethylation (it’s a cobalmin-dependent demethylase), removing a methyl group from TMA, effectively denaturing it and reducing end product TMAO.
Lead researcher Joseph Krzycki and the team are already wondering whether reducing atherosclerosis and heart disease might be as easy as increasing levels of this bacterium and other Superfamily members in the gut.