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Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Feb;55:130-40. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.10.554. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Role of oxygen gradients in shaping redox relationships between the human intestine and its microbiota.

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Office of the Scientific Director, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The unique anatomy and physiology of the intestine in conjunction with its microbial content create the steepest oxygen gradients in the body, which plunge to near anoxia at the luminal midpoint. Far from static, intestinal oxygen gradients ebb and flow with every meal. This in turn governs the redox effectors nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and reactive oxygen species of both host and bacterial origin. This review illustrates how the intestine and microbes utilize oxygen gradients as a backdrop for mechanistically shaping redox relationships and a functional coexistence.

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