Chronic alcohol overconsumption may alter gut microbial metabolism: a retrospective study of 719 13C-D-xylose breath test results

Objective: Alterations of gut microbiota composition or function may participate in the pathophysiology of several diseases. We aimed to explore the effect of chronic alcohol overconsumption on gut microbial metabolism, as assessed by evaluating 13C-D-xylose breath test results.

Materials and methods

We investigated all 13C-D-xylose breath tests performed at Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital during the years 2005 to 2011, using patient files for diagnosing the patients into one of three patient categories: alcohol overconsumption, coeliac disease and functional bowel disorder. In addition, a group of healthy controls was included. The time curves of 13CO2 excretion in breath samples were divided into two phases, evaluating small intestinal absorption (0–60 min) and colonic microbial metabolism (90–240 min), respectively.


A total of 719 patients underwent 13C-D-xylose breath testing during the inclusion period. Thirty-five had a history of alcohol overconsumption, 66 had coeliac disease, and 216 had a functional bowel disorder, while 44 healthy controls were included for comparison. The alcohol overconsumption group had similar small intestinal phase results as the group of patients with untreated coeliac disease. During the colonic phase, the group of patients with alcohol overconsumption differed from all the other groups in terms of 13C-xylose recovery, with significantly less 13CO2 excretion compared to the other groups.


The results suggest that patients with a history of alcohol overconsumption suffer from both small intestinal malabsorption and impaired colonic microbial metabolism. The role of gut microbiota in chronic alcohol overconsumption should be investigated further.

Link til artikkel

  • Forfattere: Bjørkhaug, Steinar Traae; Skar, Viggo Øystein; Medhus, Asle Wilhelm; Tollisen, Anita; Bramness, Jørgen Gustav; Valeur, Jørgen. 
  • Publisert: Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 2017 ;Volum 28
Publisert 17. mars 2017 10:43 - Sist endret 9. mai 2017 10:45