Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Gastric acid


Animals are primarily limited by their capacity to acquire food, yet digestive performance also conditions energy acquisition, and ultimately fitness. Optimal foraging theory predicts that organisms feeding on patchy resources should maximize their food loads within each patch, and should digest these loads quickly to minimize travelling costs between food patches. We tested the prediction of high digestive performance in wandering albatrosses, which can ingest prey of up to 3 kg, and feed on highly dispersed food resources across the southern ocean. GPS-tracking of 40 wandering albatrosses from the Crozet archipelago during the incubation phase confirmed foraging movements of between 475-4705 km, which give birds access to a variety of prey, including fishery wastes. Moreover, using miniaturized, autonomous data recorders placed in the stomach of three birds, we performed the first-ever measurements of gastric pH and temperature in procellariformes. These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion. Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion. This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.

Concepts: Eating, Food, Stomach, PH, Digestion, Gastric acid, Optimal foraging theory, Foraging


Acute pancreatitis (AP), especially severe acute pancreatitis often causes extra-pancreatic complications, such as acute gastrointestinal mucosal lesion (AGML) which is accompanied by a considerably high mortality, yet the pathogenesis of AP-induced AGML is still not fully understood. In this report, we investigated the alterations of serum components and gastric endocrine and exocrine functions in rats with experimental acute pancreatitis, and studied the possible contributions of these alterations in the pathogenesis of AGML. In addition, we explored the intervention effects of cannabinoid receptor agonist HU210 and antagonist AM251 on isolated and serum-perfused rat stomach. Our results showed that the AGML occurred after 5 h of AP replication, and the body homeostasis was disturbed in AP rat, with increased levels of pancreatic enzymes, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), proinflammtory cytokines and chemokines in the blood, and an imbalance of the gastric secretion function. Perfusing the isolated rat stomach with the AP rat serum caused morphological changes in the stomach, accompanied with a significant increment of pepsin and [H(+)] release, and increased gastrin and decreased somatostatin secretion. HU210 reversed the AP-serum-induced rat pathological alterations, including the reversal of transformation of the gastric morphology to certain degree. The results from this study prove that the inflammatory responses and the imbalance of the gastric secretion during the development of AP are responsible for the pathogenesis of AGML, and suggest the therapeutic potential of HU210 for AGML associated with acute pancreatitis.

Concepts: Pancreas, Stomach, Receptor antagonist, Cannabinoid receptor, Digestion, Gastric acid, Somatostatin, HU-210


Gastric acidity is likely a key factor shaping the diversity and composition of microbial communities found in the vertebrate gut. We conducted a systematic review to test the hypothesis that a key role of the vertebrate stomach is to maintain the gut microbial community by filtering out novel microbial taxa before they pass into the intestines. We propose that species feeding either on carrion or on organisms that are close phylogenetic relatives should require the most restrictive filter (measured as high stomach acidity) as protection from foreign microbes. Conversely, species feeding on a lower trophic level or on food that is distantly related to them (e.g. herbivores) should require the least restrictive filter, as the risk of pathogen exposure is lower. Comparisons of stomach acidity across trophic groups in mammal and bird taxa show that scavengers and carnivores have significantly higher stomach acidities compared to herbivores or carnivores feeding on phylogenetically distant prey such as insects or fish. In addition, we find when stomach acidity varies within species either naturally (with age) or in treatments such as bariatric surgery, the effects on gut bacterial pathogens and communities are in line with our hypothesis that the stomach acts as an ecological filter. Together these results highlight the importance of including measurements of gastric pH when investigating gut microbial dynamics within and across species.

Concepts: Bacteria, Evolution, Organism, Microbiology, Species, Ecology, Mammal, Gastric acid


Gastroenterologists are still unable to differentiate between some of the most ordinary disorders of the gut and consequently patients are misdiagnosed. We have developed a swallowable gas sensor capsule for addressing this. The gases of the gut are the by-product of the fermentation processes during digestion, affected by the gut state and can consequently provide the needed information regarding the health of the gut. Here we present the first study on gas sensor capsules for revealing the effect of a medical supplement in an animal (pig) model. We characterise the real-time alterations of gastric-gas in response to environmental heat-stress and dietary cinnamon and use the gas profiles for understanding the bio-physiological changes. Under no heat-stress, feeding increases gastric CO2 concentration, while dietary cinnamon reduces it due to decrease in gastric acid and pepsin secretion. Alternatively, heat-stress leads to hyperventilation in pigs, which reduces CO2 concentration and with the cinnamon treatment, CO2 diminishes even more, resulting in health improvement outcomes. Overall, a good repeatability in gas profiles is also observed. The model demonstrates the strong potential of real-time gas profiler in providing new physiological information that will impact understanding of therapeutics, presenting a highly reliable device for monitoring/diagnostics of gastrointestinal disorders.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Acid, Animal testing, Stomach, Gas, Digestion, Natural gas, Gastric acid


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs used to suppress gastric acid production and treat GI disorders such as peptic ulcers and gastro-oesophageal reflux. They have been considered low risk, have been widely adopted, and are often over-prescribed. Recent studies have identified an increased risk of enteric and other infections with their use. Small studies have identified possible associations between PPI use and GI microbiota, but this has yet to be carried out on a large population-based cohort.

Concepts: Gut flora, Acid, Proton, Stomach, Peptic ulcer, Gastric acid, Parietal cell, Antacid


Chronic liver disease is rising in western countries and liver cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death worldwide. Simultaneously, use of gastric acid suppressive medications is increasing. Here, we show that proton pump inhibitors promote progression of alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in mice by increasing numbers of intestinal Enterococcus spp. Translocating enterococci lead to hepatic inflammation and hepatocyte death. Expansion of intestinal Enterococcus faecalis is sufficient to exacerbate ethanol-induced liver disease in mice. Proton pump inhibitor use increases the risk of developing alcoholic liver disease among alcohol-dependent patients. Reduction of gastric acid secretion therefore appears to promote overgrowth of intestinal Enterococcus, which promotes liver disease, based on data from mouse models and humans. Recent increases in the use of gastric acid-suppressive medications might contribute to the increasing incidence of chronic liver disease.Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce gastric acid secretion and modulate gut microbiota composition. Here Llorente et al. show that PPIs induce bacterial overgrowth of enterococci, which, in turn, exacerbate ethanol-induced liver disease both in mice and humans.

Concepts: Bacteria, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Liver, Gastroenterology, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Fatty liver, Gastric acid


Caffeine, generally known as a stimulant of gastric acid secretion (GAS), is a bitter-tasting compound that activates several taste type 2 bitter receptors (TAS2Rs). TAS2Rs are expressed in the mouth and in several extraoral sites, e.g., in the gastrointestinal tract, in which their functional role still needs to be clarified. We hypothesized that caffeine evokes effects on GAS by activation of oral and gastric TAS2Rs and demonstrate that caffeine, when administered encapsulated, stimulates GAS, whereas oral administration of a caffeine solution delays GAS in healthy human subjects. Correlation analysis of data obtained from ingestion of the caffeine solution revealed an association between the magnitude of the GAS response and the perceived bitterness, suggesting a functional role of oral TAS2Rs in GAS. Expression of TAS2Rs, including cognate TAS2Rs for caffeine, was shown in human gastric epithelial cells of the corpus/fundus and in HGT-1 cells, a model for the study of GAS. In HGT-1 cells, various bitter compounds as well as caffeine stimulated proton secretion, whereby the caffeine-evoked effect was (i) shown to depend on one of its cognate receptor, TAS2R43, and adenylyl cyclase; and (ii) reduced by homoeriodictyol (HED), a known inhibitor of caffeine’s bitter taste. This inhibitory effect of HED on caffeine-induced GAS was verified in healthy human subjects. These findings (i) demonstrate that bitter taste receptors in the stomach and the oral cavity are involved in the regulation of GAS and (ii) suggest that bitter tastants and bitter-masking compounds could be potentially useful therapeutics to regulate gastric pH.

Concepts: Protein, Digestive system, Stomach, Taste, Digestion, Gastric acid, Parietal cell, Gastrin


Erlotinib depends on stomach pH for its bioavailability. When erlotinib is taken concurrently with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), stomach pH increases, which results in a clinically relevant decrease of erlotinib bioavailability. We hypothesized that this drug-drug interaction is reversed by taking erlotinib with the acidic beverage cola. The effects of cola on erlotinib bioavailability in patients not treated with a PPI were also studied.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Acid, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Proton, Stomach, Gastric acid


Despite the global prevalence of gastric disease, there are few adequate models in which to study the fundus epithelium of the human stomach. We differentiated human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into gastric organoids containing fundic epithelium by first identifying and then recapitulating key events in embryonic fundus development. We found that disruption of Wnt/β-catenin signalling in mouse embryos led to conversion of fundic to antral epithelium, and that β-catenin activation in hPSC-derived foregut progenitors promoted the development of human fundic-type gastric organoids (hFGOs). We then used hFGOs to identify temporally distinct roles for multiple signalling pathways in epithelial morphogenesis and differentiation of fundic cell types, including chief cells and functional parietal cells. hFGOs are a powerful model for studying the development of the human fundus and the molecular bases of human gastric physiology and pathophysiology, and also represent a new platform for drug discovery.

Concepts: Cell, Human, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Epithelium, Cellular differentiation, Stomach, Gastric acid


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) suppress the production of gastric acid and thus may lead to malabsorption of vitamin B12. However, few data exist regarding the associations between long-term exposure to these medications and vitamin B12 deficiency in large population-based studies.

Concepts: Receptor, Receptor antagonist, Vitamin B12, Gastric acid