High-protein diet modifies colonic microbiota and luminal environment but not colonocyte metabolism in the rat model: the increased luminal bulk connection

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Aug 15;307(4):G459-70. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00400.2013. Epub 2014 Jun 26.


High-protein diets are used for body weight reduction, but consequences on the large intestine ecosystem are poorly known. Here, rats were fed for 15 days with either a normoproteic diet (NP, 14% protein) or a hyperproteic-hypoglucidic isocaloric diet (HP, 53% protein). Cecum and colon were recovered for analysis. Short- and branched-chain fatty acids, as well as lactate, succinate, formate, and ethanol contents, were markedly increased in the colonic luminal contents of HP rats (P < 0.05 or less) but to a lower extent in the cecal luminal content. This was associated with reduced concentrations of the Clostridium coccoides and C. leptum groups and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in both the cecum and colon (P < 0.05 or less). In addition, the microbiota diversity was found to be higher in the cecum of HP rats but was lower in the colon compared with NP rats. In HP rats, the colonic and cecal luminal content weights were markedly higher than in NP rats (P < 0.001), resulting in similar butyrate, acetate, and propionate concentrations. Accordingly, the expression of monocarboxylate transporter 1 and sodium monocarboxylate transporter 1 (which is increased by higher butyrate concentration) as well as the colonocyte capacity for butyrate oxidation were not modified by the HP diet, whereas the amount of butyrate in feces was increased (P < 0.01). It is concluded that an increased bulk in the large intestine content following HP diet consumption allows maintenance in the luminal butyrate concentration and thus its metabolism in colonocytes despite modified microbiota composition and increased substrate availability.

Keywords: SCFA; metabolism; microbiota; protein; transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Butyrates / metabolism
  • Cecum / metabolism
  • Clostridium
  • Colon / cytology
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / microbiology*
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids