Charles R. Mackay, Monash University

Speech at the Herrenhausen Conference "Beyond the Intestinal Microbiome – From Signatures to Therapy", 09.10.2014

Human disease is affected by diet, as well as by the composition of the gut microbiota, through poorly understood mechanisms. One of the major activities of commensal microbes is digestion of dietary fibre to yield short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Deficiency of dietary fibre, in particular, has been associated with increased mortality due to various diseases. Decreasing amounts of fibre intake in western countries is one hypothesis for the increased incidences of certain inflammatory diseases.

The burning questions in the field of dietary metabolites to be addressed in future studies are: What is the relative importance of metabolite-sensing GPCRs versus HDACs for gut health and human disease? How important are metabolites such as SCFAs for a ‘developmental origin’ of disease, i.e. diseases that are put in train in utero or during breast feeding, and which may have an epigenetic basis? What are all the metabolites of beneficial bacteria, and are non-bacterially produced metabolites important as well?

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