Background: Galactooligosaccharides are selectively fermented by the beneficial member of the colonic microflora contributing to the health of the host.
Objective: We assessed the prebiotic potential of a novel galactooligosaccharide produced through the action of beta-galactosidases, originating from a probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum strain, against a galactooligosaccharide produced through the action of an industrial beta-galactosidase and a placebo.
Design: Fifty-nine healthy human volunteers participated in this study. Initially, the effect of the matrix on the prebiotic properties of a commercially available galactooligosaccharide (7 g/d) was assessed during 7-d treatment periods with a 7-d washout period in between. During the second phase, 30 volunteers were assigned to a sequence of treatments (7 d) differing in the amount of the novel galactooligosaccharide (0, 3.6, or 7 g/d). Stools were recovered before and after each intervention, and bacteria numbers were determined by fluorescent in situ hybridization.
Results: Addition of the novel galactooligosaccharide mixture significantly increased the bifidobacterial population ratio compared with the placebo (P < 0.05), whereas 7 g/d of the novel galactooligosaccharide significantly increased the bifidobacterial ratio compared with the commercial galactooligosaccharide (P < 0.05). Moreover, a significant relation (P < 0.001) between the bifidobacteria proportion and the novel galactooligosaccharide dose (0, 3.6, and 7 g/d) was observed. This relation was similar to the effect of the novel galactooligosaccharide on the prebiotic index of each dose.
Conclusions: This study showed that galactooligosaccharide mixtures produced with different beta-galactosidases show different prebiotic properties and that, by using enzymes originating from bifidobacterial species, an increase in the bifidogenic properties of the prebiotic product is achievable.