Fecal Enzyme Activity

Fecal Enzymes

One of the detrimental effects the human intestinal microbiota may have on host health is the production of tumor promoters, mutagens, and carcinogens from undigested dietary substrates and endogenous residues. Bacterial enzymes involved in the formation of such substances are b-glucoronidase, azoreductase, nitroreductase, and nitrate reductase (108); see also the chapters by Rafter and Rowland, and Goldin. A reduction in the activity of these enzymes can be expected to lead to a reduced exposure to carcinogenic substances. Animal models have suggested this also leads to a reduced incidence in colorectal cancers (106). However, it is not clear if this also holds true for humans.

Probiotics and Fecal Enzyme Activity

Most of the probiotics (listed in Table 6) tend to induce a reduction in fecal enzyme activity. This appears to be therefore one of the more general and reproducible properties of probiotics. However, since fecal enzyme activity is not a definite biomarker for cancer risk, one should be cautious when drawing conclusions and extrapolating from animal experiments to humans. As with SCFA production, the mechanism behind this is probably competition for nutrients and production of inhibitory metabolites.

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