Intestinal dysfunction in chronic disease. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review will discuss recent studies showing that patients with chronic wasting diseases suffer from a variety of small intestinal impairments which might negatively impact the colonic microbiota and overall well-being. New insights will be addressed as well as novel approaches to assess intestinal function. RECENT FINDINGS: Small intestinal dysfunction can enhance the amount and alter the composition of undigested food reaching the colon. As a result of reduced protein digestion and absorption, a large amount of undigested protein might reach the colon promoting the presence of pathogenic colonic bacteria and a switch from bacterial fiber fermentation to protein fermentation. While microbial metabolites of fiber fermentation, such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), are mainly considered beneficial for overall health, metabolites of protein fermentation, i.e. ammonia, branched SCFAs, hydrogen sulfide, polyamines, phenols, and indoles, can exert beneficial or deleterious effects on overall health. Substantial advances have been made in the assessment of small intestinal dysfunction in chronic diseases, but studies investigating the connection to colonic microbial metabolism are needed. A promising new stable isotope approach can enable the measurement of metabolite production by the colonic microbiota. SUMMARY: Several studies have been conducted to assess intestinal function in chronic diseases. Impairments in intestinal barrier function, sugar absorption, protein digestion, and absorption, as well as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth were observed and possibly might negatively impact colonic bacterial metabolism. We suggest that improving these perturbations will improve overall patient health.

published proceedings

  • Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kirschner, S. K., Deutz, N., & Engelen, M.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Kirschner, Sarah K||Deutz, Nicolaas EP||Engelen, MariĆ«lle PKJ

publication date

  • September 2021