In vitro modulation of the human gastrointestinal microbial community by plant-derived polysaccharide-rich dietary supplements

Int J Food Microbiol. 2010 May 15;139(3):168-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2010.02.030. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroides / growth & development
  • Bacteroides / isolation & purification
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Galactans / chemistry
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillaceae / growth & development
  • Lactobacillaceae / isolation & purification
  • Plant Gums / chemistry
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Prebiotics*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Galactans
  • Plant Gums
  • Polysaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • arabinogalactan