Influence of a methanogenic flora on the breath H 2 and symptom response to ingestion of sorbitol or oat fiber

T. M. Kajs, J. A. Fitzgerald, R. Y. Buckner, G. A. Coyle, B. S. Stinson, J. G. Morel, Michael D Levitt

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34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Objectives: We investigated the possibility that a variant of the normal colonic flora, a high concentration of methanogens, influences the host's response to ingestion of nonabsorbable, fermentable materials. Methods: To better evaluate symptomatic and breath H 2 and methane (CH 4 ) responses, subjects were placed on a basal diet (primarily rice and hamburger) that contained minimal amounts of nonabsorbable, fermentable substrate. A breath CH 4 /H 2 ratio of greater or less than 1 on the second day of the basal diet was used to categorize subjects as high (N = 9) or low (N = 25) CH 4 producers. After stabilization of the breath gas excretion (day 3 or 4 on the basal diet), the subjects ingested either sorbitol (8.8 g) or oat fiber (10.2 g). Results: The low CH 4 producers had a significantly higher (p < 0.05) breath H 2 concentration than the high producers on the basal diet and after ingestion of sorbitol (27.1 ± 2.7 ppm vs 15.8 ± 3.6 ppm) or oat fiber (13.1 ± 0.08 ppm vs 9.6 ± 1.2 ppm). Low producers of methane reported significantly increased bloating and cramping after sorbitol ingestion and increased bloating after fiber ingestion, whereas high CH 4 producers reported no significant increase in these symptoms. Conclusion: The presence of a methanogenic flora is associated with a reduced symptomatic response to ingestion of nonabsorbable, fermentable material in healthy subjects. Manipulation of the normal flora could be of therapeutic value in nonmethanogenic patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume92
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

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