An interface bioreactor, which is a device for the microbial transformation of water-insoluble substrates, was applied to an anaerobic bioconversion for the first time. Methyl 7-ketolithocholate [Me-7KLCA] was reduced with the human intestinal bacterium Eubacterium aerofaciens JCM 7790 in a convenient anaerobic interface bioreactor using a nutrient agar plate placed in a GasPak™ pouch. The resulting methyl ursodeoxycholate [Me-UDCA] is a precursor of ursodeoxycholic acid, which is used as a cholesterol gallstone-dissolving agent. The reaction conditions were optimized, and ABCM medium and dihexyl ether were selected as the best carrier and reaction solvent, respectively. The toxicity of the bile acid esters toward the human intestinal bacterium was effectively alleviated in the interface bioreactor, in which the maximal concentrations of Me-7KLCA and Me-UDCA in the dihexyl ether layer respectively reached to 12.0 and 6.1 g/l.
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