Microorganisms on the tongue could help diagnose heart failure, suggests a recent study conducted by the researchers from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. The findings from the research were presented at the Heart Failure Association (HFA) discoveries platform of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) on Tuesday.
“The tongues of patients with chronic heart failure look totally different from those of healthy people,” said the study author Dr Tianhui Yuan, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.
Contrary to the normal tongue which appears as pale red with a pale white coating, patients with heart failure (HF) showed a redder tongue with a yellow coating and the appearance changes as the disease becomes more advanced noted the researchers.
The study found that the composition, quantity and dominant bacteria of the tongue coating also differed between heart failure patients and among the healthy people. The microbial imbalance could also stimulate inflammation and disease which also play a role in heart failure, suggest the researchers.
The study investigated the composition of the tongue microbiome in participants with and without chronic heart failure. It enrolled 42 patients in hospital with chronic heart failure and 28 healthy controls. Participants devoid of any oral, tongue or dental diseases, or respiratory tract diseases and those who are non-pregnant, non-lactating and not consuming any antibiotics were involved in the study.
The samples of the tongue coating were collected in the early morning, before brushing. The samples were identified using 16SrRNA gene sequencing. Although the groups shared some similar sets of microorganisms, the findings showed that there was no overlap in bacterial content between the two groups. Additionally, at the genus level, five categories of bacteria mainly distinguished heart failure patients from healthy people noted the researchers.
The researchers also emphasized on a downward trend observed in levels of Eubacterium and Solobacterium with increasingly advanced heart failure.
“More research is needed, but our results suggest that tongue microbes, which are easy to obtain, could assist with wide-scale screening, diagnosis, and long-term monitoring of heart failure. The underlying mechanisms connecting microorganisms in the tongue coating with heart function deserve further study,” says Dr Yuan.