Relationships between transit time in man and in vitro fermentation of dietary fiber by fecal bacteria

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;54(8):603-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600687.


Objective: To assess the effects of drug-induced changes in mean transit time (MTT) on the activity of human fecal flora in vitro.

Methods: The activity of fecal flora was estimated by the ability of a fecal inoculum to ferment a substrate (beet fiber) in vitro in a batch system for 24 h. The inoculum was collected from 8 healthy volunteers studied during three 3-week randomized periods, who received a controlled diet alone (control period) or the same diet with either cisapride or loperamide. Cisapride and loperamide were adjusted in order to halve and double MTT measured during the control period. At the end of each period, the percentage disappearance of the initial added substrate and the concentration and the profile of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), were determined.

Results: In the control period, the pH of the inoculum and SCFA concentration were inversely related to MTT (P=0.0001). Individual SCFA production was also significantly related to MTT (P<0.01). Cisapride-reduced transit time was associated with a significant rise in the concentrations of total SCFAs (P<0.05), propionic and butyric acids (P<0.05) and the percentage substrate disappearance (P<0.05). Inverse relations were observed during the loperamide period. Moreover, MTT was inversely related to the percentage substrate disappearance (P<0.001), SCFA production (P<0.001) and butyrate production (P<0.0005).

Conclusion: Changes in MTT alter bacterial activity and modify the bacterial pathways affecting the proportion of individual SCFAs. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) 54, 603-609

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism*
  • Cisapride / metabolism
  • Cisapride / pharmacology
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fermentation / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / pharmacology
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / physiology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Loperamide / metabolism
  • Loperamide / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Methane / metabolism


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Loperamide
  • Methane
  • Cisapride