Metabolic impact of persistent organic pollutants on gut microbiota

Yuan Tian, Wei Gui, Bipin Rimal, Imhoi Koo, Philip B. Smith, Robert G. Nichols, Jingwei Cai, Qing Liu, Andrew D. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Emerging evidence supports that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can impact the interaction between the gut microbiota and host. Recent efforts have characterized the relationship between gut microbiota and environment pollutants suggesting additional research is needed to understand potential new avenues for toxicity. Here, we systematically examined the direct effects of POPs including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran (TCDF), 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB-123 and PCB-156) on the microbiota using metatranscriptomics and NMR- and mass spectrometry-based metabolomics combined with flow cytometry and growth rate measurements (OD600). This study demonstrated that (1) POPs directly and rapidly affect isolated cecal bacterial global metabolism that is associated with significant decreases in microbial metabolic activity; (2) significant changes in cecal bacterial gene expression related to tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle as well as carbon metabolism, carbon fixation, pyruvate metabolism, and protein export were observed following most POP exposure; (3) six individual bacterial species show variation in lipid metabolism in response to POP exposure; and (4) PCB-153 (non-coplanar)has a greater impact on bacteria than PCB-126 (coplanar) at the metabolic and transcriptional levels. These data provide new insights into the direct role of POPs on gut microbiota and begins to establish possible microbial toxicity endpoints which may help to inform risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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