Recently, a research team led by Professor Chen Chunying of the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) revealed that gut microbiota can ferment exogenous carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) as carbon sources into short-chain lipids. acids. The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences It was reported as nature Highlight.
Intestinal microbes are the main targets for exogenous nanomaterials through the oral route. Biological processes controlled by the gut microbiota determine the ultimate fate of CNMs in hosts. However, CNMs and many of the components in the gut, such as food, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as the building blocks of life cells, contain the same constituent element – carbon. It is very difficult to accurately analyze the metabolic processes of CNMs in the gut using conventional methods.
To solve this problem, the research team revealed the “past and present” of carbon nanomaterials in the gut microbiota through the application of a stable isotope. 13C-labeling technology, isotope metabolic flux tracing technology, high-resolution mass spectrometry, and microbiota gene sequencing.
In this work, the researchers first found that gut microbiota can break down two types of CNMs: single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and graphene oxides (GO). By examining intestinal metabolites, they showed that short-chain fatty acids were significantly increased in the intestines of mice treated with carbon nanomaterials by oral injection.
Use of stable isotopes 13C labeled graphite oxide and metabolic flux tracking technology, they found that CNMs were like dietary fibers and could be used as an available source of carbon by gut microbiota for decomposition and fermentation, which entered the pyruvate metabolism pathway to generate butyrate. During this process, a variety of microbial enzymes, including hexokinase, pyruvate kinase, pyruvate dehydrogenase and butyrate kinase, were involved in the fermentation of CNMs to butyrate.
Bacterial genomic sequencing revealed that butyrate-producing bacteria were the dominant species that exploited CNM to generate butyrate. Most importantly, excessive butterfat can affect the balance of the gut.
This study demonstrates for the first time the entire metabolic process of CNMs from source to end, breaking the traditional belief that microbes can only use carbohydrates to synthesize organic butyric acid molecules. The research confirms that endogenous intestinal microorganisms can use CNMs as carbon sources to generate endogenous organic metabolites, reveals novel biological fate of CNMs in the host, and provides important theoretical support for expanding application scenarios of CNMs.
Xuejing Cui et al, A novel ability of the gut microbiota: fermentation of engineered inorganic carbon nanomaterials into endogenous organic metabolites, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2218739120
Gut microbes ‘eat’ the nanoparticles – leading to changes in the microbiome, nature (2023). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-023-01540-w
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