This study was aimed at determining potential effects of apple-derived pectin on weight gain, gut microbiota, gut barrier and metabolic endotoxemia in rat models of diet-induced obesity. The rats received a standard diet (control; Chow group; n = 8) or a high-fat diet (HFD; n = 32) for eight weeks to induce obesity. The top 50th percentile of weight-gainers were selected as diet induced obese rats. Thereafter, the Chow group continued on chow, and the diet induced obese rats were randomly divided into two groups and received HFD (HF group; n = 8) or pectin-supplemented HFD (HF-P group; n = 8) for six weeks. Compared to the HF group, the HF-P group showed attenuated weight gain (207.38 ± 7.96 g vs. 283.63 ± 10.17 g, p < 0.01) and serum total cholesterol level (1.46 ± 0.13 mmol/L vs. 2.06 ± 0.26 mmol/L, p < 0.01). Compared to the Chow group, the HF group showed a decrease in Bacteroidetes phylum and an increase in Firmicutes phylum, as well as subordinate categories (p < 0.01). These changes were restored to the normal levels in the HF-P group. Furthermore, compared to the HF group, the HF-P group displayed improved intestinal alkaline phosphatase (0.57 ± 0.20 vs. 0.30 ± 0.19, p < 0.05) and claudin 1 (0.76 ± 0.14 vs. 0.55 ± 0.18, p < 0.05) expression, and decreased Toll-like receptor 4 expression in ileal tissue (0.76 ± 0.58 vs. 2.04 ± 0.89, p < 0.01). The HF-P group also showed decreased inflammation (TNFα: 316.13 ± 7.62 EU/mL vs. 355.59 ± 8.10 EU/mL, p < 0.01; IL-6: 51.78 ± 2.35 EU/mL vs. 58.98 ± 2.59 EU/mL, p < 0.01) and metabolic endotoxemia (2.83 ± 0.42 EU/mL vs. 0.68 ± 0.14 EU/mL, p < 0.01). These results suggest that apple-derived pectin could modulate gut microbiota, attenuate metabolic endotoxemia and inflammation, and consequently suppress weight gain and fat accumulation in diet induced obese rats.
Keywords: apple-derived pectin; gut barrier function; gut microbiota; metabolic endotoxemia; obesity.