Gut microbiota regulates antioxidant metabolism, study finds

By Louisa Richards

- Last updated on GMT

Gut microbiota regulates antioxidant metabolism, study finds

Related tags Amino acids Bacteria Amino acid

Gut microbiota regulates glutathione and amino acid metabolism, research in mice has suggested.

Writing in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, ​the researchers said: “We observed that gut microbiota has a profound systemic effect on AA (amino acid) and GSH (glutathione) as well as lipid metabolism, and it is one of the major regulators of metabolism in mammals.

Our findings may be used for investigating the contribution of the gut microbiome in the progression of metabolismrelated disorders as well as for elucidating the unknown etiology of such disorders.​”

The research was conducted by scientists from universities in Denmark and Sweden and partly funded by global pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

Antioxidants and the microbiome

The vast microbiome in the human gut is currently being studied extensively for its ability to modulate the pathogenesis of disease.

Previous studies have associated obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and malnutrition with an imbalance in gut flora.

Glutathione is our body’s main endogenous antioxidant – synthesised from amino acids from food and playing a vital role in many metabolic processes.

Deficiency contributes to oxidative stress and is implicated in disease states.

Study details

The researchers were investigating how gut microbiota modulates metabolism in conventionally raised and germ-free mice.

They looked at metabolic genes in the animals’ gastrointestinal tracts and livers.

The metabolic models they created showed the gut microbiota affected the host’s amino acid metabolism which led to modifications in glutathione metabolism.

They also saw effects on lipid metabolism.

In particular the researchers found the microbiota in the small intestine consumed glycine, which is one of the three amino acids required for the synthesis of glutathione.

The authors said in previous studies imbalances in glycine levels as well as other amino acids were shown to exist in obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Pathogenic bacteria?

When asked if the bacteria causing the reduction in amino acids were pathogenic or friendly, Adil Mardinoglu one of the researchers told NutraIngredients: This may be really tricky to answer. In my opinion it is pathogenic bacteria since they consume amino acids and less amino acids are available for the host.

“However, we have to see the overall gain and need to know what has been produced in return for the host.”​ 

Development of food products

Mardinoglu told us that further investigation into the bacterial strains involved in metabolic disorders was needed in order to develop efficient treatment strategies.

Food products could be developed that deliver beneficial probiotics to the gut, a press release for the research said. 


Source: Molecular Systems Biology​ 

(2015) 11: 834 Published online doi: 10.15252/msb.20156487 

The gut microbiota modulates host amino acid and glutathione metabolism in mice" ​ 

Authors: A. Mardinoglu et al.

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