Formation of ursodeoxycholic acid from chenodeoxycholic acid by a 7 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-elaborating Eubacterium aerofaciens strain cocultured with 7 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-elaborating organisms

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1982 Nov;44(5):1187-95. doi: 10.1128/aem.44.5.1187-1195.1982.


A gram-positive, anaerobic, chain-forming, rod-shaped anaerobe (isolate G20-7) was isolated from normal human feces. This organism was identified by cellular morphology as well as fermentative and biochemical data as Eubacterium aerofaciens. When isolate G20-7 was grown in the presence of Bacteroides fragilis or Escherichia coli (or another 7 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase producer) and chenodeoxycholic acid, ursodeoxycholic acid produced. Time course curves revealed that 3 alpha-hydroxy-7-keto-5 beta-cholanoic acid produced by B. fragilis or E. coli or introduced into the medium as a pure substance was reduced by G20-7 specifically to ursodeoxycholic acid. The addition of glycine- and taurine-conjugated primary bile acids (chenodeoxycholic and cholic acids) and other bile acids to binary cultures of B. fragilis and G20-7 revealed that (i) both conjugates were hydrolyzed to give free bile acids, (ii) ursocholic acid (3 alpha, 7 beta, 12 alpha-trihydroxy-5 beta-cholanoic acid) was produced when conjugated (or free) cholic acid was the substrate, and (iii) the epimerization reaction was at least partially reversible. Corroborating these observations, an NADP-dependent 7 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (reacting specifically with 7 beta-OH-groups) was demonstrated in cell-free preparations of isolate G20-7; production of the enzyme was optimal at between 12 and 18 h of growth. This enzyme, when measured in the oxidative direction, was active with ursodeoxycholic acid, ursocholic acid, and the taurine conjugate of ursodeoxycholic acid (but not with chenodeoxycholic, deoxycholic, or cholic acids) and displayed an optimal pH range of 9.8 to 10.2

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroides fragilis / enzymology
  • Bacteroides fragilis / growth & development
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / metabolism*
  • Deoxycholic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ecology
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Eubacterium / growth & development
  • Eubacterium / metabolism*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / metabolism*


  • Deoxycholic Acid
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • 7 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
  • 7 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase