The use of rats associated with a human faecal flora as a model for studying the effects of diet on the human gut microflora

J Appl Bacteriol. 1987 Jul;63(1):39-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.1987.tb02415.x.


The activities of four bacterial biotransformation enzymes (beta-glucosidase, beta-glucuronidase, nitrate reductase and nitroreductase) were measured in the caecal contents of conventional flora rats or germ-free rats contaminated with a mixed, human faecal flora and compared with activities present in a fresh human stool preparation. Both the conventional flora rats and the rats inoculated with a human flora exhibited an enzyme profile generally similar to that of human faeces, although the conventional rat flora exhibited negligible nitrate reductase activity. The enzyme profile remained essentially unaltered in both human flora preparations following supplementation of the diet with pectin, whereas the conventional rat flora responded to this plant cell wall carbohydrate with a significant increase in nitrate reductase activity. The results demonstrate that enzymic activities of the human faecal microflora can be simulated in rats associated with a mixed population of human intestinal bacteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Biotransformation
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nitrate Reductases / metabolism
  • Nitroreductases / metabolism
  • Pectins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Pectins
  • Nitrate Reductases
  • Nitroreductases
  • beta-Glucosidase
  • Glucuronidase