Lactate has the potential to promote hydrogen sulphide formation in the human colon

Perrine Marquet, Sylvia H Duncan, Christophe Chassard, Annick Bernalier-Donadille, Harry J Flint

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100 Citations (Scopus)


High concentrations of sulphide are toxic for the gut epithelium and may contribute to bowel disease. Lactate is a favoured cosubstrate for the sulphate-reducing colonic bacterium Desulfovibrio piger, as shown here by the stimulation of sulphide formation by D. piger DSM749 by lactate in the presence of sulphate. Sulphide formation by D. piger was also stimulated in cocultures with the lactate-producing bacterium Bifidobacterium adolescentis L2-32. Other lactate-utilizing bacteria such as the butyrate-producing species Eubacterium hallii and Anaerostipes caccae are, however, expected to be in competition with the sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) for the lactate formed in the human colon. Strains of E. hallii and A. caccae produced 65% and 96% less butyrate from lactate, respectively, in a coculture with D. piger DSM749 than in a pure culture. In triculture experiments involving B. adolescentis L2-32, up to 50% inhibition of butyrate formation by E. hallii and A. caccae was observed in the presence of D. piger DSM749. On the other hand, sulphide formation by D. piger was unaffected by E. hallii or A. caccae in these cocultures and tricultures. These experiments strongly suggest that lactate can stimulate sulphide formation by SRB present in the colon, with possible consequences for conditions such as colitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-134
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number2
Early online date6 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • lactate
  • butyrate
  • sulphide
  • eubacterium hallii
  • desulfovibrio piger
  • butyrate-producing bacteria
  • sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • human large-intestine
  • chain fatty-acids
  • ulcerative-colitis
  • human feces
  • fermentation products
  • microbial communities
  • human gut
  • in-vitro
  • Eubacterium hallii
  • Desulfovibrio piger


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