News & Views | Published:


Dietary emulsifiers—sweepers of the gut lining?

Nature Reviews Endocrinology volume 11, pages 319320 (2015) | Download Citation

Low doses of two commonly used dietary emulsifiers—carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80—are reported to induce low-grade inflammation, metabolic disorders and increases in body weight in mice. These emulsifiers also promote colitis in mice that are susceptible to this disorder. Interestingly, changes in the gut microbiota were both necessary and sufficient to induce the metabolic alterations.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Metabolism in 2013: The gut microbiota manages host metabolism. Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 10, 74–76 (2014).

  2. 2.

    , & The two mucus layers of colon are organized by the MUC2 mucin, whereas the outer layer is a legislator of host-microbial interactions. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108 (Suppl. 1), 4659–4665 (2011).

  3. 3.

    et al. Cross-talk between Akkermansia muciniphila and intestinal epithelium controls diet-induced obesity. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 9066–9071 (2013).

  4. 4.

    et al. The antibacterial lectin RegIIIγ promotes the spatial segregation of microbiota and host in the intestine. Science 334, 255–258 (2011).

  5. 5.

    et al. Mucosal-associated invariant T cell alterations in obese and type 2 diabetic patients. J. Clin. Invest. .

  6. 6.

    et al. Microbiome of prebiotic-treated mice reveals novel targets involved in host response during obesity. ISME J. 8, 2116–2130 (2014).

  7. 7.

    et al. Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome. Nature 519, 92–96 (2015).

  8. 8.

    et al. Metabolic syndrome and altered gut microbiota in mice lacking Toll-like receptor 5. Science 328, 228–231 (2010).

  9. 9.

    et al. Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10−/− mice. Nature 487, 104–108 (2012).

  10. 10.

    et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature 514, 181–186 (2014).

Download references


P.D.C. thanks Amandine Everard for helpful discussions during the preparation of this manuscript. P.D.C. has received grants from FNRS (convention J.0084.15, convention 3.4579.11) and PDR (Projet de Recherche, convention: T.0138.14), ARC (Action de Recherche Concertée - Communauté française de Belgique convention: 12/17-047) and is supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique - FNRS for the FRFS-WELBIO under Grant n WELBIO-CR-2012S-02R. P.D.C. is a recipient of ERC Starting Grant 2013 (European Research Council, Starting grant 336452-ENIGMO).

Author information


  1. Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, WELBIO–Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences and BIOtechnology, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue E. Mounier, 73 box B1.73.11, 1200 Brussels, Belgium.

    • Patrice D. Cani


  1. Search for Patrice D. Cani in:

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patrice D. Cani.

About this article

Publication history



Further reading

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing