Arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) affect the protein/carbohydrate fermentation balance and microbial population dynamics of the Simulator of Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem

Microb Biotechnol. 2009 Jan;2(1):101-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7915.2008.00064.x. Epub 2008 Oct 13.


Arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) are a recently newly discovered class of candidate prebiotics as - depending on their structure - they are fermented in different regions of gastrointestinal tract. This can have an impact on the protein/carbohydrate fermentation balance in the large intestine and, thus, affect the generation of potentially toxic metabolites in the colon originating from proteolytic activity. In this study, we screened different AXOS preparations for their impact on the in vitro intestinal fermentation activity and microbial community structure. Short-term fermentation experiments with AXOS with an average degree of polymerization (avDP) of 29 allowed part of the oligosaccharides to reach the distal colon, and decreased the concentration of proteolytic markers, whereas AXOS with lower avDP were primarily fermented in the proximal colon. Additionally, prolonged supplementation of AXOS with avDP 29 to the Simulator of Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME) reactor decreased levels of the toxic proteolytic markers phenol and p-cresol in the two distal colon compartments and increased concentrations of beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in all colon vessels (25-48%). Denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis indicated that AXOS supplementation only slightly modified the total microbial community, implying that the observed effects on fermentation markers are mainly caused by changes in fermentation activity. Finally, specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis showed that AXOS supplementation significantly increased the amount of health-promoting lactobacilli as well as of Bacteroides-Prevotella and Clostridium coccoides-Eubacterium rectale groups. These data allow concluding that AXOS are promising candidates to modulate the microbial metabolism in the distal colon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Fermentation*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Polymerization
  • Prebiotics / analysis
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Xylans / chemistry
  • Xylans / metabolism*


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • Proteins
  • Xylans
  • arabinoxylan