Polysaccharide Utilization by Human Colonic Bacteria

  • Abigail A. Salyers
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 270)


A complex and constantly changing mixture of polysaccharides enters the human colon every day. Most of these polysaccharides are plant cell wall polysaccharides. Although plant cell wall polysaccharides can be degraded to a limited extent by exposure to acid in the stomach, they are not digested at all by human small intestinal enzymes and thus reach the colon virtually intact. Also included in the mixture that enters the colon are host polysaccharides such as glycoprotein raucins secreted by goblet cells and mucopolysaccharides released during sloughing of intestinal mucosal cells. Since the rate of mucin production and mucosal cell turnover increases as the amount of fiber in the diet increases, the amount of host polysaccharide entering the colon is not constant but varies with the composition of the diet (Vahouny and Cassidy, 1986).


Host Product Glycoprotein Mucin Colonic Microflora Plant Cell Wall Polysaccharide Starch Degrading Enzyme 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail A. Salyers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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