Small intestine vs. colon ecology and physiology: Why it matters in probiotic administration

Benjamin Anderschou Holbech Jensen*, Marc Heyndrickx, Daisy Jonkers, Alan Mackie, Sam Millet, Malwina Naghibi, Simone Isling Pærregaard, Bruno Pot, Delphine Saulnier, Christian Sina, Luc Gerardus Willibrordus Sterkman, Pieter Van den Abbeele, Naomi Vita Venlet*, Erwin G. Zoetendal, Arthur Constantijn Ouwehand

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Research on gut microbiota has generally focused on fecal samples, representing luminal content of the large intestine. However, nutrient uptake is restricted to the small intestine. Abundant immune cell populations at this anatomical site combined with diminished mucus secretion and looser junctions (partly to allow for more efficient fluid and nutrient absorption) also results in intimate host-microbe interactions despite more rapid transit. It is thus crucial to dissect key differences in both ecology and physiology between small and large intestine to better leverage the immense potential of human gut microbiota imprinting, including probiotic engraftment at biological sensible niches. Here, we provide a detailed review unfolding how the physiological and anatomical differences between the small and large intestine affect gut microbiota composition, function, and plasticity. This information is key to understanding how gut microbiota manipulation, including probiotic administration, may strain-dependently transform host-microbe interactions at defined locations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101190
JournalCell Reports Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 19.09.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)
  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-05 Nutritional Science, Nutritional Medicine
  • 204-01 Metabolism, Biochemistry and Genetics of Microorganisms

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