Dietary fructo-oligosaccharides in healthy adults do not negatively affect faecal cytotoxicity: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial

Br J Nutr. 2006 Jun;95(6):1143-9. doi: 10.1079/bjn20061765.


Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are widely used in commercial food products. Most studies on FOS concern the health benefits, but some negative effects were recently reported concerning the faecal cytotoxicity and excretion of mucin-type oligosaccharides in combination with a Ca-restricted diet. The present study was performed to investigate whether these effects of FOS are observed in adults consuming a regular diet unrestricted in Ca. The study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, involving eleven healthy adults, who consumed 25-30 g FOS or maltodextrin (control) in a random order for 2 weeks in addition to their regular diet. Stools were collected for analysis of pH and SCFA (as markers of fermentation), for the assessment of faecal water cytotoxicity, and for the analysis of alkaline phosphatase activity (as a marker of epithelial cell turnover) and O-linked oligosaccharides (to estimate the excretion of mucin-type oligosaccharides). FOS consumption significantly altered bacterial fermentation (increased percentage of acetate, decreased percentage of butyrate) and tended to decrease stool pH. Furthermore, FOS consumption resulted in a significantly higher stool frequency and in significantly more complaints of flatulence. No significant differences between the control and FOS period were observed in the mean cytotoxicity of faecal water (37.5 (SEM 6.9)% v. 18.5 (SEM 6.9)%; P=0.084), in mean alkaline phosphatase activity (27.7 (SEM 2.9) v. 24.6 (SEM 3.2) U/g dry faeces; P=0.496) or in the mean excretion of mucin-type oligosaccharides (49.9 (sem 4.0) v. 53.5 (SEM 4.3) mg/g dry faeces; P=0.553). We conclude that dietary FOS in a dose up to 25-30 g/d altered the bacterial fermentation pattern but did not affect faecal cytotoxicity or the faecal concentration of mucin-type oligosaccharides in human adults consuming a regular diet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / analysis
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / analysis
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Body Water / physiology*
  • Butyrates / analysis
  • Cell Death
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diet*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Erythrocytes / cytology
  • Feces* / chemistry
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Flatulence / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Mucins / analysis
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology


  • Acetates
  • Biomarkers
  • Butyrates
  • Mucins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • maltodextrin
  • Alkaline Phosphatase