Open Access Mini Review Article ID: ACG-8-209

    Dietary molybdenum may stimulate the growth of colonic sulfur reducing bacteria, increasing hydrogen sulfide levels in the human colon and the possible health effects of an excess of colonic sulfides

    Brian James Grech*

    Molybdenum is a trace mineral needed in small quantities by most life forms. In living organisms, a molybdenum atom is found within molybdenum-dependent enzymes or molybdoenzymes. Molybdoenzymes catalyze reactions in carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen metabolism. Only four molbdoenzymes have been identified in humans. Most of the known molybdoenzymes are found in bacteria. Dietary molybdenum can be administrated to humans, to treat Wilson disease and tungsten poisoning; and it may be useful in arthritis. Sulfur-reducing bacteria are the bacterial group that reduces certain sulfur molecules to hydrogen sulfide. These bacteria can inhabit anaerobic parts of the gastrointestinal tract of mammals and are the predominant producer of hydrogen sulfide in the human colon. Hydrogen sulfide plays a major role in the malodor of human flatus. Some individuals have reported an increase in foul odoriferous gases from the colon after molybdenum supplementation. The underlying mechanism as to how this occurs is currently not known. Possible bacteria that are involved could be sulfur-reducing bacteria and methionine dissimilating bacteria. Supplementing sheep with molybdenum and with sulfur exclusively in the form of methionine can stimulate the growth of sulfur-reducing bacteria and increase the level of sulfides in the rumen. The molybdoenzyme, thiosulfate reductase, is found in sulfur-reducing bacteria and catalyzes the reduction of thiosulfate to hydrogen sulfide. The source of thiosulfate could be from ruminal epithelial cells detoxifying methanethiol, produced by methionine dissimilating bacteria, degrading the dietary methionine to methanethiol. Therefore, the molybdenum could be activating thiosulfate reductases of sulfur-reducing bacteria in the rumen of these animals. The human colon can also harbor sulfur-reducing bacteria, and dietary molybdenum and methionine can reach this organ. Therefore, dietary molybdenum may be stimulating the growth of sulfur-reducing bacteria in some individuals. Sulfides in the human colon could have beneficial and detrimental effects on health. Such effects could include the already mentioned malodor of flatus, the stabilizing of the microbiome-mucosa interface in an intestinal dysbiosis, the treatment of hypertension and the promotion of inflammation in ulcerative colitis.


    Published on: Aug 30, 2022 Pages: 29-35

    Full Text PDF Full Text HTML DOI: 10.17352/2455-2283.000109
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