Slowed gastrointestinal transit is associated with an altered caecal microbiota in an aged rat model

Nabil Parkar, Julie E. Dalziel, Nick J. Spencer, Patrick Janssen, Warren C. McNabb, Wayne Young

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Gastrointestinal (GI) motility is largely dependent upon activity within the enteric nervous system (ENS) and is an important part of the digestive process. Dysfunction of the ENS can impair GI motility as is seen in the case of constipation where gut transit time is prolonged. Animal models mimicking symptoms of constipation have been developed by way of pharmacological manipulations. Studies have reported an association between altered GI motility and gut microbial population. Little is known about the changes in gut microbiota profile resulting specifically from pharmacologically induced slowed GI motility in rats. Moreover, the relationship between gut microbiota and altered intestinal motility is based on studies using faecal samples, which are easier to obtain but do not accurately reflect the intestinal microbiome. The aim of this study was to examine how delayed GI transit due to opioid receptor agonism in the ENS modifies caecal microbiota composition. Differences in caecal microbial composition of loperamide-treated or control male Sprague Dawley rats were determined by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The results revealed that significant differences were observed at both genus and family level between treatment groups. Bacteroides were relatively abundant in the loperamide-induced slowed GI transit group, compared to controls. Richness and diversity of the bacterial communities was significantly lower in the loperamide-treated group compared to the control group. Understanding the link between specific microbial species and varying transit times is crucial to design interventions targeting the microbiome and to treat intestinal motility disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1139152
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • Bacteroides
  • caecal microbiota
  • enteric nervous system
  • intestinal motility
  • loperamide


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