Xylooligosaccharide increases bifidobacteria but not lactobacilli in human gut microbiota

Food Funct. 2014 Mar;5(3):436-45. doi: 10.1039/c3fo60348b.


This study was conducted to determine the tolerance and effects of the prebiotic xylooligosaccharide (XOS) on the composition of human colonic microbiota, pH and short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in order to determine whether significant changes in the microbiota would be achievable without side effects. Healthy adult subjects (n = 32) were recruited in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Subjects received 1.4 g XOS, 2.8 g XOS or placebo in daily doses. The study consisted of a 2 week run-in, an 8 week intervention, and a 2 week washout phase. Stool samples were collected at baseline, after 4 and 8 weeks of intervention and 2 weeks after cessation of intervention. Samples were subjected to culture, pyrosequencing of community DNA, pH and SCFA analyses. Tolerance was evaluated by daily symptom charts. XOS was tolerated without significant gastrointestinal side effects. Bifidobacterium counts increased in both XOS groups compared to the placebo subjects, the 2.8 g per day group showed significantly greater increases than the 1.4 g per day group. Total anaerobic counts and Bacteroides fragilis group counts were significantly higher in the 2.8 g per day XOS group. There were no significant differences in the counts of Lactobacillus, Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium between the three groups. XOS intervention had no significant effect on stool pH, SCFA or lactic acid. Pyrosequencing showed no notable shifts in bacterial diversity. XOS supplementation may be beneficial to gastrointestinal microbiota and 2.8 g per day may be more effective than 1.4 g per day. The low dose required and lack of gastrointestinal side effects makes the use of XOS as a food supplement feasible.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development*
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Glucuronates / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / growth & development*
  • Lactobacillus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Prebiotics / analysis*
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Glucuronates
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • xylooligosaccharide