Diet and the gut microbiome represent key determinants of gut motility, a physiologic parameter governing digestion and nutrient absorption. We have shown that even just a single dietary ingredient (turmeric) can be used to manipulate motility in a microbiome-dependent bile acid-mediated manner via the enteric nervous system (ENS) (Dey et al., 2015), the network of approximately 500 million nerves that regulates gut physiology. We seek to elucidate how bile acids mediate interactions at the interface between gut microbes and the ENS.
Secondary bile acids such as deoxycholic acid are carcinogenic in the gastrointestinal tract. We seek to identify environmental regulators of bacterial bile acid metabolism in order to ultimately prevent bile acid-mediated carcinogenesis.