Colonic Physiology

  • Ursula M. Szmulowicz
  • Tracy L. Hull


  • The colon plays a role in digestion by fermenting complex carbohydrates and proteins that prove resistant to digestion and absorption in the more proximal intestine.

  • Ten percent of ingested carbohydrates enter the cecum and are fermented by saccharolytic and proteolytic species of bacteria, the majority of which are obligate anaerobes.

  • The diverse end products of bacterial fermentation include complex carbohydrates (fiber) and the short-chain fatty acids: butyrate [15 %], propionate [25 %], and acetate [60 %].

  • Complex carbohydrates are fermented primarily in the ascending and proximal transverse colon, while proteins are fermented in the distal colon.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Distal Colon Proximal Colon Colonic Transit Colonic Motility 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Colorectal SurgeryCleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Colorectal SurgeryDigestive Disease Institute, The Cleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

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