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Science. 2017 Jun 23;356(6344). pii: eaag2770. doi: 10.1126/science.aag2770.

Chemical transformation of xenobiotics by the human gut microbiota.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
2
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. balskus@chemistry.harvard.edu.
3
Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Abstract

The human gut microbiota makes key contributions to the metabolism of ingested compounds (xenobiotics), transforming hundreds of dietary components, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals into metabolites with altered activities, toxicities, and lifetimes within the body. The chemistry of gut microbial xenobiotic metabolism is often distinct from that of host enzymes. Despite their important consequences for human biology, the gut microbes, genes, and enzymes involved in xenobiotic metabolism are poorly understood. Linking these microbial transformations to enzymes and elucidating their biological effects is undoubtedly challenging. However, recent studies demonstrate that integrating traditional and emerging technologies can enable progress toward this goal. Ultimately, a molecular understanding of gut microbial xenobiotic metabolism will guide personalized medicine and nutrition, inform toxicology risk assessment, and improve drug discovery and development.

PMID:
28642381
PMCID:
PMC5534341
DOI:
10.1126/science.aag2770
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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