Obese Mice Fed a Diet Supplemented with Enzyme-Treated Wheat Bran Display Marked Shifts in the Liver Metabolome Concurrent with Altered Gut Bacteria

J Nutr. 2016 Dec;146(12):2445-2460. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.238923. Epub 2016 Oct 19.


Background: Enzyme-treated wheat bran (ETWB) contains a fermentable dietary fiber previously shown to decrease liver triglycerides (TGs) and modify the gut microbiome in mice. It is not clear which mechanisms explain how ETWB feeding affects hepatic metabolism, but factors (i.e., xenometabolites) associated with specific microbes may be involved.

Objective: The objective of this study was to characterize ETWB-driven shifts in the cecal microbiome and to identify correlates between microbial changes and diet-related differences in liver metabolism in diet-induced obese mice that typically display steatosis.

Methods: Five-week-old male C57BL/6J mice fed a 45%-lard-based fat diet supplemented with ETWB (20% wt:wt) or rapidly digestible starch (control) (n = 15/group) for 10 wk were characterized by using a multi-omics approach. Multivariate statistical analysis was used to identify variables that were strong discriminators between the ETWB and control groups.

Results: Body weight and liver TGs were decreased by ETWB feeding (by 10% and 25%, respectively; P < 0.001), and an index of liver reactive oxygen species was increased (by 29%; P < 0.01). The cecal microbiome showed an increase in Bacteroidetes (by 42%; P < 0.05) and a decrease in Firmicutes (by 16%; P < 0.05). Metabolites that were strong discriminators between the ETWB and control groups included decreased liver antioxidants (glutathione and α-tocopherol); decreased liver carbohydrate metabolites, including glucose; lower hepatic arachidonic acid; and increased liver and plasma β-hydroxybutyrate. Liver transcriptomics revealed key metabolic pathways affected by ETWB, especially those related to lipid metabolism and some fed- or fasting-regulated genes.

Conclusions: Together, these changes indicate that dietary fibers such as ETWB regulate hepatic metabolism concurrently with specific gut bacteria community shifts in C57BL/6J mice. It is proposed that these changes may elicit gut-derived signals that reach the liver via enterohepatic circulation, ultimately affecting host liver metabolism in a manner that mimics, in part, the fasting state.

Keywords: dietary fiber; gut microbiota; metabolomics; transcriptomics; xenobiotic.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / analysis*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / metabolism*