Intestinal bacteria influence food transit through the gut

November 21, 2013

Food transit through the small intestine affects the body's absorption of nutrients and, consequently, our health. The discovery that food transit time is regulated by a hormone indicates new ways to increase the intestinal absorption of nutrients, and thus potentially treat malnutrition.

One of the tasks of the is to break down from our diet to provide a usable energy source in the colon.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have now shown that lack of energy in the colon leads to increased release of a hormone primarily associated with and , GLP-1.

Importantly, they also showed that the released GLP-1 regulates how quickly food passes through the small intestine. These findings may open up new possibilities to treat malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases.

"Food transit through the small intestine is a complex balancing act, in which the gut lining must be given time to absorb nutrients but without allowing pathogenic bacteria sufficient time to colonize the small intestine. We have discovered that food transit through the is regulated by a specific hormone called GLP-1, which is linked to our glucose metabolism and appetite," says Anita Wichmann, postdoctoral researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and the study's lead author.

The study, published in the prestigious journal Cell Host & Microbe, was led by Professor Fredrik Bäckhed, who heads an internationally recognized research group that investigates the links between the gut microbiota and regulation of the body's metabolism.

"We are continuously discovering new functions that are regulated by the gut microbiota, which highlight its incredibly important function for health and development of diseases," he says.

Explore further: New discoveries linking gut bacteria with cholesterol metabolism give hope for the future

More information: "Microbial Modulation of Energy Availability in the Colon Regulates Intestinal Transit." Anita Wichmann, Ava Allahyar, Thomas U. Greiner, Hubert Plovier, Gunnel Östergren Lundén, Thomas Larsson, Daniel J. Drucker, Nathalie M. Delzenne, Patrice D. Cani, Fredrik Bäckhed. Cell Host & Microbe - 13 November 2013 (Vol. 14, Issue 5, pp. 582-590) DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2013.09.012

Related Stories

The body's bacteria affect intestinal blood vessel formation

March 26, 2012

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered a previously unknown mechanism which helps intestinal bacteria to affect the formation of blood vessels. The results, which are ...

Microbial restoration of the inflamed gut

September 30, 2013

A team led by gastroenterologists Sieglinde Angelberger and Walter Reinisch (Medical University Vienna) and microbiologists David Berry and Alexander Loy (University of Vienna) explored how a treatment called "fecal microbiota ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.