Lingonberries alter the gut microbiota and prevent low-grade inflammation in high-fat diet fed mice

Food Nutr Res. 2016 Apr 27:60:29993. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v60.29993. eCollection 2016.


Background: The gut microbiota plays an important role in the development of obesity and obesity-associated impairments such as low-grade inflammation. Lingonberries have been shown to prevent diet-induced obesity and low-grade inflammation. However, it is not known whether the effect of lingonberry supplementation is related to modifications of the gut microbiota. The aim of the present study was to describe whether consumption of different batches of lingonberries alters the composition of the gut microbiota, which could be relevant for the protective effect against high fat (HF)-induced metabolic alterations.

Methods: Three groups of C57BL/6J mice were fed HF diet with or without a supplement of 20% lingonberries from two different batches (Lingon1 and Lingon2) during 11 weeks. The composition and functionality of the cecal microbiota were assessed by 16S rRNA sequencing and PICRUSt. In addition, parameters related to obesity, insulin sensitivity, hepatic steatosis, inflammation and gut barrier function were examined.

Results: HF-induced obesity was only prevented by the Lingon1 diet, whereas both batches of lingonberries reduced plasma levels of markers of inflammation and endotoxemia (SAA and LBP) as well as modified the composition and functionality of the gut microbiota, compared to the HF control group. The relative abundance of Akkermansia and Faecalibacterium, genera associated with healthy gut mucosa and anti-inflammation, was found to increase in response to lingonberry intake.

Conclusions: Our results show that supplementation with lingonberries to an HF diet prevents low-grade inflammation and is associated with significant changes of the microbiota composition. Notably, the anti-inflammatory properties of lingonberries seem to be independent of effects on body weight gain.

Keywords: Akkermansia; LBP; berries; hepatic steatosis; high-fat diet; metabolic endotoxemia; obesity.