Tolerance of arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides and their prebiotic activity in healthy subjects: a randomised, placebo-controlled cross-over study

Br J Nutr. 2010 Mar;103(5):703-13. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992248. Epub 2009 Dec 10.


The tolerance and prebiotic effect following oral intake by healthy human subjects of arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS), produced by partial enzymic hydrolysis of the wheat fibre arabinoxlyan, were studied. A total of twenty healthy subjects participated in the present randomised, placebo-controlled cross-over study. They consumed 10 g AXOS or placebo per d each for 3 weeks with a 4-week wash-out period in between. Before and immediately after each intake period, blood samples were taken to measure haematological and clinical chemistry parameters and the subjects completed a questionnaire about gastrointestinal symptoms. Additionally, urine was collected over 48 h for analysis of p-cresol and phenol content by GC-MS, and faeces were collected over 72 h for analysis of microbiota using real-time PCR. Of the subjects, ten also performed a urine and faeces collection 2 weeks after the start of intake (during intervention). A limited number of tested blood parameters were influenced in a statistically significantly way by either AXOS or placebo intake, but these changes remained within the normal range. Blood lipids remained unchanged. AXOS had no statistically significant effect on the range of gastrointestinal symptoms, except for a mild increase in flatulence. Urinary p-cresol excretion, an indicator of protein fermentation, was significantly decreased after 2 weeks of AXOS intake. The levels of bifidobacteria were significantly increased after 2 and 3 weeks of AXOS intake as well as after 3 weeks of placebo. However, the effect of AXOS on bifidobacteria was more pronounced than that of placebo. In conclusion, AXOS are a well-tolerated prebiotic at the dose of 10 g/d. AXOS intake increases faecal bifidobacteria and reduces urinary p-cresol excretion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Bifidobacterium / drug effects*
  • Cresols / urine
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Flatulence
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Phenols / urine
  • Prebiotics*
  • Triticum / chemistry
  • Xylans / pharmacology*


  • Cresols
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Phenols
  • Prebiotics
  • Xylans
  • 4-cresol
  • arabinoxylan