Hydrogen gas produced during colonic fermentation is excreted in breath and flatus, or removed by hydrogen-consuming bacteria such as methanogens and sulphate-reducing bacteria. However, recent research has shown that H2 is also consumed by equol-producing bacteria during the reduction of daidzein into equol. In this study, the interactions between methanogens, sulphate-reducing, and equol-producing bacteria were investigated under in vitro simulated intestinal conditions. In the presence of daidzein, the equol-producing bacterial consortium EPC4 gave rise to equol production in cultures of Methanobrevibacter smithii or Desulfovibrio sp. as well as in faecal samples with methanogenic or sulphate-reducing abilities. Moreover, this supplementation significantly (P<0.001) decreased the methanogenesis and sulphidogenesis. The attenuation did not occur in the absence of a daidzein source. Additionally, there was no influence of soy germ powder, daidzein or equol as such, excluding a possible inhibition by these compounds. Finally, a stronger decrease was observed with increasing amounts of EPC4 and a constant equol production, suggesting that the observed effect was only partly caused by the action of daidzein as a hydrogen sink. These findings are of relevance since abdominal discomfort such as bloating and flatulence, are related to colonic gas production, whereas equol has potential health benefits.
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