The Link Between Gut Bacteria And Cholesterol Metabolism

It is well established that high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and now scientists have shown that cholesterol metabolism is regulated by bacteria in the small intestine.

Cholesterol is mainly synthesised in the body but it is also obtained through the diet. Cholesterol is converted to bile acids in the liver which are then secreted into the intestine and either removed from the body or recycled back to the liver.

Gut bacteria is shown to reduce bile acid synthesis in the liver by signalling through a protein known as the FXR receptor in the small intestine. It is not just cholesterol metabolism that gut bacteria are involved with; they also appear to play a role in the body’s metabolism of fat and sugar. This leads scientists to believe that they will be able to develop an effective treatment for heart disease, diabetes and obesity by targeting gut bacteria and the mechanism by which it regulates cholesterol metabolism.


Backhed F, et al., Gut Microbiota Regulates Bile Acid Metabolism by Reducing the Levels of Tauro-beta-Muricholic Acid, A naturally Occurring FXR Antagonist, Cell Metabolism, 2013, 17(2): 225-35.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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