Colonic transit time is related to bacterial metabolism and mucosal turnover in the gut

Henrik Munch Roager, Lea Benedicte Skov Hansen, Martin Iain Bahl, Henrik Lauritz Frandsen, Vera Carvalho, Rikke J Gøbel, Marlene Danner Dalgaard, Damian Rafal Plichta, Morten H Sparholt, Henrik Vestergaard, Torben Hansen, Thomas Sicheritz-Pontén, Henrik Bjørn Nielsen, Oluf Pedersen, Lotte Lauritzen, Mette Kristensen, Ramneek Gupta, Tine Rask Licht

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Little is known about how colonic transit time relates to human colonic metabolism and its importance for host health, although a firm stool consistency, a proxy for a long colonic transit time, has recently been positively associated with gut microbial richness. Here, we show that colonic transit time in humans, assessed using radio-opaque markers, is associated with overall gut microbial composition, diversity and metabolism. We find that a long colonic transit time associates with high microbial richness and is accompanied by a shift in colonic metabolism from carbohydrate fermentation to protein catabolism as reflected by higher urinary levels of potentially deleterious protein-derived metabolites. Additionally, shorter colonic transit time correlates with metabolites possibly reflecting increased renewal of the colonic mucosa. Together, this suggests that a high gut microbial richness does not per se imply a healthy gut microbial ecosystem and points at colonic transit time as a highly important factor to consider in microbiome and metabolomics studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16093
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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