In vitro prebiotic effects of Acacia gums onto the human intestinal microbiota depends on both botanical origin and environmental pH

Anaerobe. 1998 Dec;4(6):257-66. doi: 10.1006/anae.1998.0178.


Acacia gums are commonly used food additives. It is currently unclear how extensively these non-digestible polysaccharides are fermented in the human large intestine. However, they have been shown to support bifidobacterial growth in vitro and may represent useful candidate prebiotics. In these investigations, in vitro 24-h batch incubations and chemostat continuous-cultures of human faecal bacteria were conducted using two acacia gums (Fibregum standard and Fibregum AS). Our aim was to study the effects of these gums on bacterial ecology and fermentation in the large bowel. Fructooligosaccharides (Actilight-950P) were also investigated as a reference. Both Acacia gums were extensively fermented by intestinal flora although there were marked differences in fermentation product formation and ecological effects, probably due to their differing botanical origins and/or biochemical characteristics. In particular, fermentation of Fibregum AS led to significantly higher proportions of propionate both in batch and chemostat experiments. Both gums decreased Clostridium sp. levels but only Fibregum-standard induced higher Lactobacillus sp. counts compared to control. These bacterial modifications were highly dependent of the operating pH of the fermentation system with acidic conditions promoting both the prebiotic and the butyrogenic effects of fructooligosaccharides. In these studies, we have demonstrated that, similarly to fructooligosaccharides, Acacia gums can exert putatively beneficial effects on host health through both the improvement of the composition of the large intestine microflora and SCFA formation.