The use of prebiotics is a possible strategy to manage and steer the complex gut microbial community towards a health-promoting composition (Gastrointestinal Resource Management). In this study, the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem was used to investigate the effects of two commercially-available plant polysaccharide supplements on the structure, composition and metabolism of an in vitro cultured colon microbial community. Microbial analyses showed both a bifidogenic (up to +1.3 log cfu/mL) and a lactobacillogenic (up to +0.9 log cfu/mL) effect during treatment with the dietary supplements. Quantitative PCR confirmed that the increase of Bifidobacteria spp. was statistically significant (P<0.05) in all of the colon compartments and showed a significant increase of the bacteroides-prevotella group concentration (+0.6 log cells/ml) in the compartment simulating the proximal colon. Denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis analyses and a relative ecological interpretation, in combination with sugar and short-chain fatty acids quantification, provided evidence of a positive effect of both the tested products. Overall, the treatment period was associated with (i) good and selective fermentability of the polysaccharide supplements along the entire colon; (ii) positive and selective bifidogenic effect; (iii) the possibility of enhancing species belonging to Bacteroidetes, a phylum recently associated with body weight management.
2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.