Regulators of gut motility revealed by a gnotobiotic model of diet-microbiome interactions related to travel

Cell. 2015 Sep 24;163(1):95-107. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.059.


To understand how different diets, the consumers' gut microbiota, and the enteric nervous system (ENS) interact to regulate gut motility, we developed a gnotobiotic mouse model that mimics short-term dietary changes that happen when humans are traveling to places with different culinary traditions. Studying animals transplanted with the microbiota from humans representing diverse culinary traditions and fed a sequence of diets representing those of all donors, we found that correlations between bacterial species abundances and transit times are diet dependent. However, the levels of unconjugated bile acids-generated by bacterial bile salt hydrolases (BSH)-correlated with faster transit, including during consumption of a Bangladeshi diet. Mice harboring a consortium of sequenced cultured bacterial strains from the Bangladeshi donor's microbiota and fed a Bangladeshi diet revealed that the commonly used cholekinetic spice, turmeric, affects gut motility through a mechanism that reflects bacterial BSH activity and Ret signaling in the ENS. These results demonstrate how a single food ingredient interacts with a functional microbiota trait to regulate host physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bangladesh
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Curcuma / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota
  • Models, Animal*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Travel*


  • Bile Acids and Salts