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Ann Nutr Metab. 1997;41(1):45-51.

Bile acid metabolism by colonic bacteria in continuous culture: effects of starch and pH.

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Department of Medicine, University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Secondary bile acids (BA) have been shown to be involved as a promoting agent in the adenoma-carcinoma sequence of colorectal cancer. In previous studies, fermentation of starch has been shown to inhibit the degradation of primary to secondary BA by the colonic microflora. This study was designed to investigate BA metabolism in continuous cultures of mixed fecal bacteria to get further insights into the mechanisms of this inhibition. Fermentation vessels were fed with media containing cholic (0.6 g/l) and chenodeoxycholic acid (0.4 g/l). Cultures were either starch-free or enriched with starch (10 g/l). pH was controlled and adjusted to 7.0 or 6.0. Total culture duration was 28 days and concentrations of BA, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), and starch were measured periodically. At pH 6, significantly more primary BA remained in the media and less secondary BA were produced. Total BA concentrations were lower at pH7. SCFA concentrations were higher in the vessels supplemented with starch. Starch was completely fermented and not present in significant amounts in any fermentation vial after the first week. These data indicate that bacterial breakdown of primary to secondary BA is inhibited when starch is simultaneously fermented. This effect can be explained by the reduction of pH resulting from SCFA production. Considering these findings, resistant starch which escapes assimilation in the small bowel may be a protective factor against colorectal cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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