Hydrogen (H2) catabolism in the colon of the rat

Michael D Levitt, Terriel Berggren, John Hastings, John H. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The present study was prompted by the observation that neomycin-treated rats excreted markedly increased quantities of H2, a bacterial fermentation product. Recovery studies of H2 and He instilled into the cecum showed that H2 was rapidly catabolized. This catabolism was attributed to bacteria since it was not observed in germ-free rats and it was partially inhibited by neomycin or carbon monoxide. Thus, intestinal bacteria both produce and consume H2 and neomycin appears to selectively inhibit H2 consumption. Bacterial gas catabolism represents a previously unrecognized factor influencing the volume of intestinal gas. In addition, this study illustrates that normal colonic function may depend upon the metabolism of the normal flora as well as the absence of pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-167
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of laboratory and clinical medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1974


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