The Impact of Environmental Chemicals on the Gut Microbiome

Toxicol Sci. 2020 Aug 1;176(2):253-284. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa065.


Since the surge of microbiome research in the last decade, many studies have provided insight into the causes and consequences of changes in the gut microbiota. Among the multiple factors involved in regulating the microbiome, exogenous factors such as diet and environmental chemicals have been shown to alter the gut microbiome significantly. Although diet substantially contributes to changes in the gut microbiome, environmental chemicals are major contaminants in our food and are often overlooked. Herein, we summarize the current knowledge on major classes of environmental chemicals (bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and pesticides) and their impact on the gut microbiome, which includes alterations in microbial composition, gene expression, function, and health effects in the host. We then discuss health-related implications of gut microbial changes, which include changes in metabolism, immunity, and neurological function.

Keywords: environmental chemicals; gut microbiome; health risks.

Publication types

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