Gut Microbiota-Generated Metabolites in Animal Health and Disease

Nat Chem Biol. 2014 Jun;10(6):416-24. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.1535.


Gut microbiota is found in virtually any metazoan, from invertebrates to vertebrates. It has long been believed that gut microbiota, more specifically, the activity of the microbiome and its metabolic products, directly influence a variety of aspects in metazoan physiology. However, the exact molecular relationship among microbe-derived gut metabolites, host signaling pathways, and host physiology remains to be elucidated. Here we review recent discoveries regarding the molecular links between gut metabolites and host physiology in different invertebrate and vertebrate animal models. We describe the different roles of gut microbiome activity and their metabolites in regulating distinct host physiology and the molecular mechanisms by which gut metabolites cause physiological homeostasis via regulating specific host signaling pathways. Future studies in this direction using different animal models will provide the key concepts to understanding the evolutionarily conserved chemical dialogues between gut microbiota and metazoan cells and also human diseases associated with gut microbiota and metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Invertebrates / microbiology
  • Invertebrates / physiology
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Vertebrates / microbiology*
  • Vertebrates / physiology