Recent research finds that gut bugs are the reason why some patients don't respond well to cholesterol-lowering statins.
A team led by a Duke University scientist has identified three bile acids produced by gut bacteria in people who responded well to a common cholesterol-lowering drug called simvastatin.
The finding demonstrates how gut bacteria can cause inherent differences in the way people digest, metabolize and benefit from substances such as drugs.
The study represents an analysis of the intestinal microflora and metabolomics, a science that examines thousands of biochemical components involved in cellular metabolism and how they affect health.
"This is personalized medicine - the effects of drugs and how we respond," said lead author Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, Ph.D., an associate professor in Duke's Department of Psychiatry and leader of the Pharmacometabolomics Network.
"We found that the benefit of statins could be partly related to the type of bacteria that lives in our guts. The reason we respond differently is not only our genetic makeup, but also our gut microbiome," she added.
The researchers hypothesize that because bile acids and statins share transporter routes to the liver and intestines - they are basically in competition for a ride-producing more or less of certain bile acids could improve or diminish the drug's effects.
The finding is published Oct. 13, 2011, in Public Library of Science One.