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

Cite this

Roager, H. M., Hansen, L. B. S., Bahl, M. I., Frandsen, H. L., Carvalho, V., Gøbel, R. J., Dalgaard, M. D., Plichta, D. R., Sparholt, M. H., Vestergaard, H., Hansen, T., Sicheritz-Pontén, T., Nielsen, H. B., Pedersen, O., Lauritzen, L., Kristensen, M., Gupta, R., & Licht, T. R. (2016). Colonic transit time is related to bacterial metabolism and mucosal turnover in the gut. Nature Microbiology, 1(9), [16093].