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The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants?

Claus, S. P., Guillou, H. and Ellero-Simatos, S. (2016) The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants? npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 2. 16003. ISSN 2055-5008

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/npjbiofilms.2016.3

Abstract/Summary

Exposure to environmental chemicals has been linked to various health disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dysregulation of the immune and reproductive systems, whereas the gastrointestinal microbiota critically contributes to a variety of host metabolic and immune functions. We aimed to evaluate the bidirectional relationship between gut bacteria and environmental pollutants and to assess the toxicological relevance of the bacteria–xenobiotic interplay for the host. We examined studies using isolated bacteria, faecal or caecal suspensions—germ-free or antibiotic-treated animals—as well as animals reassociated with a microbiota exposed to environmental chemicals. The literature indicates that gut microbes have an extensive capacity to metabolise environmental chemicals that can be classified in five core enzymatic families (azoreductases, nitroreductases, β-glucuronidases, sulfatases and β-lyases) unequivocally involved in the metabolism of >30 environmental contaminants. There is clear evidence that bacteria-dependent metabolism of pollutants modulates the toxicity for the host. Conversely, environmental contaminants from various chemical families have been shown to alter the composition and/or the metabolic activity of the gastrointestinal bacteria, which may be an important factor contributing to shape an individual’s microbiotype. The physiological consequences of these alterations have not been studied in details but pollutant-induced alterations of the gut bacteria are likely to contribute to their toxicity. In conclusion, there is a body of evidence suggesting that gut microbiota are a major, yet underestimated element that must be considered to fully evaluate the toxicity of environmental contaminants.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Food Microbial Sciences Research Group
ID Code:65689
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group

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