Microbial lactate utilisation and the stability of the gut microbiome

Petra Louis* (Corresponding Author), Sylvia Duncan, Paul Sheridan, Alan Walker, Harry J. Flint

*Corresponding author for this work

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The human large intestinal microbiota thrives on dietary carbohydrates that are converted to a range of fermentation products. Short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate and butyrate) are the dominant fermentation acids that accumulate to high concentrations in the colon and they have health21 promoting effects on the host. Although many gut microbes can also produce lactate, it usually does not accumulate in the healthy gut lumen. This appears largely to be due to the presence of a relativel small number of gut microbes that can utilise lactate and convert it to propionate, butyrate or acetate. There is increasing evidence that these microbes play important roles in maintaining a healthy gut environment. In this review we will provide an overview of the different microbes involved in lactate metabolism within the gut microbiota, including biochemical pathways utilised and their underlying energetics, as well as regulation of the corresponding genes. We will further discuss the potential consequences of perturbation of the microbiota leading to lactate accumulation in the gut and associated disease states and how lactate-utilising bacteria may be employed to treat such diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3
Number of pages16
JournalGut Microbiome
Early online date4 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Financial Support
PL, SHD, AWW received financial support from the Scottish Government Rural and Environmental Sciences and Analytical Services (SG-RESAS).


  • gut microbiota
  • Anaerobic fermentation
  • lactate
  • shortchain fatty acids
  • cross-feeding


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