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Eur J Nutr. 2018 Feb;57(1):1-24. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1445-8. Epub 2017 Apr 9.

Gut microbiota functions: metabolism of nutrients and other food components.

Author information

1
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK. publications@ilsieurope.be.
2
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK.
3
Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, Avenue des Hauts Fourneaux 7, 4362, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
4
The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, UK.
5
Division of Computational and Systems Medicine, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.
6
Nutrition and Nutrigenomics Unit, Department of Food Quality and Nutrition, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach, 1, Trento, 38010, Italy.

Abstract

The diverse microbial community that inhabits the human gut has an extensive metabolic repertoire that is distinct from, but complements the activity of mammalian enzymes in the liver and gut mucosa and includes functions essential for host digestion. As such, the gut microbiota is a key factor in shaping the biochemical profile of the diet and, therefore, its impact on host health and disease. The important role that the gut microbiota appears to play in human metabolism and health has stimulated research into the identification of specific microorganisms involved in different processes, and the elucidation of metabolic pathways, particularly those associated with metabolism of dietary components and some host-generated substances. In the first part of the review, we discuss the main gut microorganisms, particularly bacteria, and microbial pathways associated with the metabolism of dietary carbohydrates (to short chain fatty acids and gases), proteins, plant polyphenols, bile acids, and vitamins. The second part of the review focuses on the methodologies, existing and novel, that can be employed to explore gut microbial pathways of metabolism. These include mathematical models, omics techniques, isolated microbes, and enzyme assays.

KEYWORDS:

Food components; Gut microbiota; Methodology; Microbial metabolism; Microbiome

PMID:
28393285
PMCID:
PMC5847071
DOI:
10.1007/s00394-017-1445-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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