Functional recovery outcomes following acute stroke is associated with abundance of gut microbiota related to inflammation, butyrate and secondary bile acid

Tyler C. Hammond, Elizabeth Powell, Stefan J. Green, George Chlipala, Jacqueline Frank, Andrew T. Yackzan, Lucille M. Yanckello, Ya Hsuan Chang, Xin Xing, Sally Heil, Joe E. Springer, Keith Pennypacker, Arnold Stromberg, Lumy Sawaki, Ai Ling Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence suggests that gut microbes modulate brain plasticity via the bidirectional gut-brain axis and play a role in stroke rehabilitation. However, the microbial species alterations associated with stroke and their correlation with functional outcome measures following acute stroke remain unknown. Here we measure post-stroke gut dysbiosis and how it correlates with gut permeability and cognitive functions in 12 stroke participants, 18 controls with risk factors for stroke, and 12 controls without risk factors. Stool samples were used to measure the microbiome with whole genome shotgun sequencing and leaky gut markers. We genotyped APOE status and measured diet composition and motor, cognitive, and emotional status using NIH Toolbox. We used linear regression methods to identify gut microbial associations with cognitive and emotional assessments. We did not find significance differences between the two control groups. In contrast, the bacteria populations of the Stroke group were statistically dissimilar from the control groups. Relative abundance analysis revealed notable decreases in butyrate-producing microbial taxa, secondary bile acid-producing taxa, and equol-producing taxa. The Stroke group had higher levels of the leaky gut marker alpha-1-antitrypsin in the stool than either of the groups and several taxa including Roseburia species (a butyrate producer) were negatively correlated with alpha-1-antitrypsin. Stroke participants scored lower on memory testing than those in the two control groups. Stroke participants with more Roseburia performed better on the picture vocabulary task; more Bacteroides uniformis (a butyrate producer) and less Escherichia coli (a pro-inflammatory species) reported higher levels of self-efficacy. Intakes of fiber, fruit and vegetable were lower, but sweetened beverages were higher, in the Stroke group compared with controls. Vegetable consumption was correlated with many bacterial changes among the participants, but only the species Clostridium bolteae, a pro-inflammatory species, was significantly associated with stroke. Our findings indicate that stroke is associated with a higher abundance of proinflammatory species and a lower abundance of butyrate producers and secondary bile acid producers. These altered microbial communities are associated with poorer functional performances. Future studies targeting the gut microbiome should be developed to elucidate whether its manipulation could optimize rehabilitation and boost recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1017180
JournalFrontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
2022 Hammond, Powell, Green, Chlipala, Frank, Yackzan, Yanckello, Chang, Xing, Heil, Springer, Pennypacker, Stromberg, Sawaki and Lin.


  • NIH toolbox
  • butyrate
  • dietary questionnaire
  • functional recovery
  • leaky gut
  • microbiome
  • secondary bile acid
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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