Food Chemicals Disrupt Human Gut Microbiota Activity And Impact Intestinal Homeostasis As Revealed By In Vitro Systems

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 20;8(1):11006. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29376-9.


Growing evidence indicates that the human gut microbiota interacts with xenobiotics, including persistent organic pollutants and foodborne chemicals. The toxicological relevance of the gut microbiota-pollutant interplay is of great concern since chemicals may disrupt gut microbiota functions, with a potential impairment of host homeostasis. Herein we report within batch fermentation systems the impact of food contaminants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorobiphenyls, brominated flame retardants, dioxins, pesticides and heterocyclic amines) on the human gut microbiota by metatranscriptome and volatolome i.e. "volatile organic compounds" analyses. Inflammatory host cell response caused by microbial metabolites following the pollutants-gut microbiota interaction, was evaluated on intestinal epithelial TC7 cells. Changes in the volatolome pattern analyzed via solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry mainly resulted in an imbalance in sulfur, phenolic and ester compounds. An increase in microbial gene expression related to lipid metabolism processes as well as the plasma membrane, periplasmic space, protein kinase activity and receptor activity was observed following dioxin, brominated flame retardant and heterocyclic amine exposure. Conversely, all food contaminants tested induced a decreased in microbial transcript levels related to ribosome, translation and nucleic acid binding. Finally, we demonstrated that gut microbiota metabolites resulting from pollutant disturbances may promote the establishment of a pro-inflammatory state in the gut, as stated with the release of cytokine IL-8 by intestinal epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacology*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Xenobiotics