Calcium supplementation modulates gut microbiota in a prebiotic manner in dietary obese mice

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Feb;60(2):468-80. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500480. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Scope: Dietary calcium has been inversely associated with body fat and energy balance. The main scope of this study has been to assess the potential contribution of gut microbiota on energy regulation mediated by calcium.

Methods and results: Gut microbiota in C57BL/6J mice receiving calcium supplementation under a high-fat (HF) diet were analysed by PCR and their relationships with host metabolic parameters were determined. Calcium conferred a prebiotic-like effect on gut microbiota, and animals presented lower plasmatic endotoxin levels, increased expression of angiopoietin-like 4 in intestine and lower hepatic lipid content, although increased expression of stress markers in adipose tissue and of inflammation in liver was also found. To determine whether slimming effects could be transferred to obese mice, a faecal microbial transplant (FMT) was carried out, showing that host bacteria grown under a HF diet could not be superseded by those from calcium-fed animals. Therefore, FMT was not able to transfer the beneficial effects of calcium.

Conclusion: In conclusion, calcium modulated gut microbiota in a prebiotic manner, establishing a host cross-talk and promoting a healthier metabolic profile. However, lack of effectiveness of FMT suggests the need of further appropriate dietary factors in addition to the bacteria per se.

Keywords: Angptl4; Calcium supplementation; Conjugated linoleic acid; Microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiopoietin-Like Protein 4
  • Angiopoietins / genetics
  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / drug effects
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Prebiotics*


  • Angiopoietin-Like Protein 4
  • Angiopoietins
  • Angptl4 protein, mouse
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Prebiotics