Chemical Metabolism of Xenobiotics by Gut Microbiota

Curr Drug Metab. 2020;21(4):260-269. doi: 10.2174/1389200221666200303113830.


Among the gut microbiota's newly explored roles in human biology is the ability to modify the chemical structures of foreign compounds (xenobiotics). A growing body of evidence has now provided sufficient acumen on the role of the gut microbiota on xenobiotic metabolism, which could have an intense impact on the therapy for various diseases in the future. Gut microbial xenobiotic metabolites have altered bioavailability, bioactivity and toxicity and can intervene with the actions of human xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes to affect the destiny of other ingested molecules. These modifications are diverse and could lead to physiologically important consequences. In the current manuscript we aim to review the data currently available on how the gut microbiota directly modifies drugs, dietary compounds, chemicals, pollutants, pesticides and herbal supplements.

Keywords: Xenobiotics; bioactivity; bioavailability; drug metabolism; gut microbiota; pollutants; toxicity..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Xenobiotics