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J Nutr. 2013 Aug;143(8):1269-75. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.170894. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

Age, dietary fiber, breath methane, and fecal short chain fatty acids are interrelated in Archaea-positive humans.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Recent attention has focused on the significance of colonic Archaea in human health and energy metabolism. The main objectives of this study were to determine the associations among the number of fecal Archaea, body mass index (BMI), fecal short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations, and dietary intakes of healthy humans. We collected demographic information, 3-d diet records, and breath and fecal samples from 95 healthy participants who were divided into 2 groups: detectable Archaea (>10(6) copies/g; Arch+ve) and undetectable Archaea. Dietary intakes, BMI, and fecal SCFAs were similar in both groups. The mean number of Archaea 16S rRNA gene copies detected in Arch+ve participants' feces was 8.9 ± 0.2 log/g wet weight. In Arch+ve participants, there were positive correlations between breath methane and age (r = 0.52; P = 0.001), total dietary fiber (TDF) intake (r = 0.57; P = 0.0003), and log number of fecal Archaea 16S rRNA gene copies (r = 0.35; P = 0.03). In the Arch+ve group, negative correlations were observed between TDF/1000 kcal and fecal total SCFA (r = -0.46; P ≤ 0.01) and between breath methane and fecal total SCFA (r = -0.42; P = 0.01). Principal component analysis identified a distinct Archaea factor with positive loadings of age, breath methane, TDF, TDF/1000 kcal, and number of log Archaea 16S rRNA gene copies. The results suggest that colonic Archaea is not associated with obesity in healthy humans. The presence of Archaea in humans may influence colonic fermentation by altering SCFA metabolism and fecal SCFA profile.

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