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What is Methane (CH4 gas)?

Mar 28, 2018

Methane (CH4 gas), is a gas produced by a group of colonic anaerobes, absorbed from the colon and excreted in expired air. As a result, breath CH4 excretion can be used as an indicator of the in situ activity of the methanogenic flora. All CH4 produced in human beings is a metabolic product of intestinal bacteria, and about 50% of CH4 gas produced in the gut is absorbed and excreted in expired air. Because there appears to be no catabolism of this gas by other colonic organisms or host cells, breath CH4 gas measurements provide a rapid, simple means of semi quantitatively assessing the ongoing in situ metabolism of the methanogenic flora. It could seem likely that the intracolonic activity of a variety of bacteria similarly might be assessed quantitatively via analysis of expired air. However, the application of this methodology has been confounded by the rapid catabolism of many volatile bacterial products by other bacteria or human tissue. A striking aspect of the studies of breath CH4 gas measurements is the enormous individual variations in the excretion of this gas. Virtually all children under 5 years of age and 66% of the adult population do not exhale appreciable quantities of CH4 gas. The remaining 34% of the adult population has appreciable breath methane concentrations of up to 80 ppm (mean, 15. 2 ppm; median, 11. 8 ppm).

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