Influence of dietary blueberry and broccoli on cecal microbiota activity and colon morphology in mdr1a(-/-) mice, a model of inflammatory bowel diseases

Nutrition. 2012 Mar;28(3):324-30. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.07.018. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Objective: Enteric microbiota has been shown to be associated with various pathological conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This study aimed to determine the anti-inflammatory colonic effects of blueberries and broccoli in mdr1a(-/-) mice (IBD mouse model) through modification of microbiota composition in the gastrointestinal tract.

Methods: The mdr1a(-/-) mice were fed either a control diet or the control diet supplemented with either 10% blueberry or broccoli for 21 wk. We investigated the influence of these diets on cecal microbiota and organic acids, colon morphology, and bacterial translocation to mesenteric lymph nodes.

Results: In comparison to mice fed the control diet, blueberry and broccoli supplementation altered cecum microbiota similarly with the exception of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which was found to be significantly lower in broccoli-fed mice. High concentrations of butyric acid and low concentrations of succinic acid were observed in the cecum of broccoli-fed mice. Blueberry- and broccoli-supplemented diets increased colon crypt size and the number of goblet cells per crypt. Only the broccoli-supplemented diet significantly lowered colonic inflammation compared to mice fed the control diet. Translocation of total microbes to mesenteric lymph nodes was lower in broccoli-fed mice compared to blueberry and control diet groups.

Conclusion: Dietary blueberries and/or broccoli altered the composition and metabolism of the cecal microbiota and colon morphology. Overall, these results warrant further investigation through clinical studies to establish whether the consumption of blueberries and/or broccoli is able to alter the composition and metabolism of large intestine microbiota and promote colon health in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blueberry Plants / chemistry
  • Brassica / chemistry
  • Cecum / drug effects
  • Cecum / microbiology*
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / drug effects
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fruit
  • Functional Food
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Male
  • Metagenome / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Vegetables


  • DNA, Bacterial