It is well understood that bile acids are fundamental for optimal fat digestion and vitamin absorption. However two new studies have shown that they also play a key role in regulating intestinal inflammation by altering the activity of immune cells that are associated with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The studies, conducted by Harvard Medical School, have identified three bile acid metabolites that are linked to bacterial genes and produce molecules that influence the activity of inflammation-regulating cells within the gut. Both the molecules and the bacterial genes were found to be lower in both number and activity in patients with diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease.

This important finding offers opportunities for new molecular or bacterial treatments aimed at calming intestinal inflammation in IBD.

Paik, D. et al. (2022) Human gut bacteria produce ΤΗ17-modulating bile acid metabolites. Nature.

Li W. et al. (2021) A bacterial bile acid metabolite modulates Treg activity through the nuclear hormone receptor NR4A1. Cell Host Microbe, 8;29(9), 1366-1377.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.07.013.

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