Prebiotic evaluation of a novel galactooligosaccharide mixture produced by the enzymatic activity of Bifidobacterium bifidum NCIMB 41171, in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled intervention study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):785-91. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.3.785.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bifidobacterium / enzymology*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Galactose / biosynthesis
  • Galactose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / biosynthesis
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Probiotics*
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism*


  • Oligosaccharides
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Galactose