Functional constipation (FC) is common, yet the etiology is not clear. Accumulating evidence suggests an association between FC and abnormal gut microbiota. The relationship between the gut microbiota and the gut transit is likely bidirectional. This review summarizes the current evidence regarding the impact of gut microbiota on the pathogenesis of FC. By modulating the colonic motility, secretion, and absorption, gut microbiota may contribute to the development of FC through microbial metabolic activities involving bile acids, short-chain fatty acids, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and methane. In support of the key roles of the gut microbiota in FC, treatment with probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, and traditional Chinese medicine often result in compositional and functional changes in the gut microbiota. Further studies on the pathogenesis of FC and the therapeutic mechanism of microecological agents will provide a knowledge base for better management of FC.

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