Gut 53:530-535 doi:10.1136/gut.2003.023499
  • Intestinal microflora

Dietary fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin decrease resistance of rats to salmonella: protective role of calcium

  1. S J M Ten Bruggencate,
  2. I M J Bovee-Oudenhoven,
  3. M L G Lettink-Wissink,
  4. M B Katan,
  5. R Van der Meer
  1. Nutrition and Health Program, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences/NIZO Food Research, Ede, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr I M J Bovee-Oudenhoven
    Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences/NIZO Food Research, PO Box 20, 6710 Ede, the Netherlands;
  • Accepted 22 October 2003


Background: We have shown recently that rapid fermentable fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) decreased resistance of rats towards salmonella. It is not known whether inulin (which is fermented more gradually) has similar effects or whether buffering nutrients can counteract the adverse effects of rapid fermentation.

Aims: To compare the effects of dietary inulin and FOS on resistance of rats to Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis and to determine whether calcium phosphate counteracts the effects of fermentation.

Methods: Male Wistar rats (n = 8 per group) were fed a human “Western style diet”. Diets with 60 g/kg cellulose (control), FOS, or inulin had either a low (30 mmol/kg) or high (100 mmol/kg) calcium concentration. After an adaptation period of two weeks, animals were orally infected with 2×109 colony forming units of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis. Colonisation of salmonella was determined by quantification of salmonella in caecal contents. Translocation of salmonella was quantified by analysis of urinary nitric oxide metabolites in time.

Results: Inulin and FOS decreased intestinal pH and increased faecal lactobacilli and enterobacteria. Moreover, both prebiotics increased the cytotoxicity of faecal water and faecal mucin excretion. Both prebiotics increased colonisation of salmonella in caecal contents and enhanced translocation of salmonella. Dietary calcium phosphate counteracted most of the adverse effects of inulin and FOS.

Conclusions: Both inulin and FOS impair resistance to intestinal infections in rats. This impairment is partially prevented by dietary calcium phosphate. The results of the present study await verification in other controlled animal and human studies.