Links between diet, intestinal anaerobes, microbial metabolites and health

Sylvia Duncan* (Corresponding Author), Elena Conti, Liviana Ricci, Alan Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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A dense microbial community resides in the human colon, with considerable inter-individual variability in composition, although some species are relatively dominant and widespread in healthy individuals. In disease conditions, there is often a reduction in microbial diversity and perturbations in the composition of the microbiota. Dietary complex carbohydrates that reach the large intestine are important modulators of the composition of the microbiota and their primary metabolic outputs. Specialist gut bacteria may also transform plant phenolics to form a spectrum of products possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Consumption of diets high in animal protein and fat may lead to the formation of potentially deleterious microbial products, including nitroso compounds, hydrogen sulphide, and trimethylamine. Gut anaerobes also form a range of secondary metabolites, including polyketides that may possess antimicrobial activity and thus contribute to microbe–microbe interactions within the colon. The overall metabolic outputs of colonic microbes are derived from an intricate network of microbial metabolic pathways and interactions; however, much still needs to be learnt about the subtleties of these complex networks. In this review we consider the multi-faceted relationships between inter-individual microbiota variation, diet, and health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1338
Number of pages20
Issue number5
Early online date1 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding: S.H.D., L.R. and A.W.W. were supported by the Scottish Government and Environmental Sciences and Analytical Services (SG-RESAS). E.C. received support for her PhD studies from Tenovus, Scotland.
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Pat Bain, University of Aberdeen, for assistance in creating the figure.


  • microbial symbiosis
  • host interactions
  • Firmicutes
  • Bacteroidetes
  • dietary macro-nutrients
  • short-chain fatty acids
  • butyrate
  • bacteriocins


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