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production at mitochondrial level. Since the brain has a high energy requirement, it is one of the most affected organs. The neurotoxic effects of H2


S can be also mediated via eructation,


with other gases, from the rumen and absorption through the lungs.


Negative impact on intestinal butyrate use Recently, a relationship between sulphur and various colonic diseases in humans has been identified. Strong evidence showed that high animal protein diets (containing meat, eggs) increase abundance of sulphate reducing bacteria and H2


S production, while inhibiting butyrate producing species


(e.g. Ruminococcus). In healthy colonocytes, low extracellular concentrations of H2


S can be oxidised by mitochondria for detoxification. But at excessive concentrations, H2S inhibits the cytochrome C oxi-


dase activity impacting the mitochondrial respiratory chain and, therefore, oxygen utilisation by the colonocytes. It is also known that H2


S is limiting butyrate oxidation


(responsible for about 70% of the energy for the colono- cytes). This energy deficiency is often associated with the prev- alence of ulcerative colitis and impaired gut permeability.


Sulphur in the radar for the future? Since the feed industry started to move to the so-called “antibiotic-free” nutrition, gut health has become a key pillar for maintaining profitability for all livestock production. Thus, increasing attention has been focusing on the role of microbiota and its interaction with gut epithelial cells and on incidence of inflammatory gut disorders. In this respect, there is a need to better understand the potential effects of S on host metabolism and on shaping microbiota along the gastrointestinal tract of both monogastric and ruminant species. The right dietary allowance of inorganic and organic S-compounds as well as the consideration of the oxidation and speciation states of S can help in maintaining the structure of the gut ecosystem and epithelial barrier function.


Table 1-Common oxidation states of sulphur. Oxidation state Compound Name


State generally found -2 H2 -1 S


0 S8 2 SCl2 4 H2SO3 SO3


2-


6 H2SO4 2-


SO4


R-S-S-R´ Disulphide Octasulfur


The cysteine dimer of cystine Elemental S


Sulphur dichloride Very instable Sulphurous acid Sulphite


Sulphuric acid Sulphate


Sulphites (SO3 2- Sulphates (SO4 ) 2- )


Use / role


Hydrogen sulphide In sulphide, ore minerals, natural gas, H2 amino acids (Met and Cys)


S is mildly acidic in water and is extremely toxic to animals


Disulfide bonds an important linkage role on the structure of proteins Used in production of sulphuric acid


Precursor to several inorganic sulphur compounds Use in winemaking industry & in food preservation to control bacterial development Use in animal nutrition as “ligand” for minerals and amino acids (eg: L-Lys sulphate)


▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020


71


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