Gut microbiota functions: metabolism of nutrients and other food components

Ian Rowland (Corresponding Author), Glenn Gibson, Almut Heinken, Karen Scott, Jonathan Swann, Ines Thiele, Kieran Tuhoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1095 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • gut microbiota
  • microbiome
  • microbial metabolism
  • food components
  • methodology


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