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Insight into the prebiotic concept: lessons from an exploratory, double blind intervention study with inulin-type fructans in obese women
  1. Evelyne M Dewulf1,
  2. Patrice D Cani1,
  3. Sandrine P Claus2,
  4. Susana Fuentes3,
  5. Philippe GB Puylaert3,
  6. Audrey M Neyrinck1,
  7. Laure B Bindels1,
  8. Willem M de Vos3,
  9. Glenn R Gibson2,
  10. Jean-Paul Thissen4,
  11. Nathalie M Delzenne1
  1. 1Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, LDRI, Université catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium
  2. 2Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  3. 3Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  4. 4Pole of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Nutrition, IREC, Université catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Professor Nathalie M Delzenne, Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue E. Mounier 73,PO Box B1.73.11, 1200 Brussels, Belgium; nathalie.delzenne{at}


Objective To highlight the contribution of the gut microbiota to the modulation of host metabolism by dietary inulin-type fructans (ITF prebiotics) in obese women.

Methods A double blind, placebo controlled, intervention study was performed with 30 obese women treated with ITF prebiotics (inulin/oligofructose 50/50 mix; n=15) or placebo (maltodextrin; n=15) for 3 months (16 g/day). Blood, faeces and urine sampling, oral glucose tolerance test, homeostasis model assessment and impedancemetry were performed before and after treatment. The gut microbial composition in faeces was analysed by phylogenetic microarray and qPCR analysis of 16S rDNA. Plasma and urine metabolic profiles were analysed by 1H-NMR spectroscopy.

Results Treatment with ITF prebiotics, but not the placebo, led to an increase in Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii; both bacteria negatively correlated with serum lipopolysaccharide levels. ITF prebiotics also decreased Bacteroides intestinalis, Bacteroides vulgatus and Propionibacterium, an effect associated with a slight decrease in fat mass and with plasma lactate and phosphatidylcholine levels. No clear treatment clustering could be detected for gut microbial analysis or plasma and urine metabolomic profile analyses. However, ITF prebiotics led to subtle changes in the gut microbiota that may importantly impact on several key metabolites implicated in obesity and/or diabetes.

Conclusions ITF prebiotics selectively changed the gut microbiota composition in obese women, leading to modest changes in host metabolism, as suggested by the correlation between some bacterial species and metabolic endotoxaemia or metabolomic signatures.

  • Obesity
  • Prebiotic
  • Nutrition
  • Intestinal Bacteria

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