Reinforcement of intestinal epithelial barrier by arabinoxylans in overweight and obese subjects: A randomized controlled trial: Arabinoxylans in gut barrier

Clin Nutr. 2018 Apr;37(2):471-480. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.01.024. Epub 2017 Feb 3.


Background & aims: Obesity and metabolic diseases are associated with alterations in microbial composition and impaired gut barrier. Previous in vitro and animal studies have shown that arabinoxylans (AX) have the potential to modulate gut microbiota and gut barrier and therefore could have a protective role. Primary aim of the study was to investigate the effect of AX on intestinal permeability. Secondary aims included the effect of AX on gene transcription and protein expression of tight junctions (TJ), intestinal microbiota composition and activity, immune response and metabolic markers in overweight and obese individuals.

Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 47 overweight subjects were randomly assigned to groups receiving 7.5 g/d AX (n = 16), 15 g/d AX (n = 17) or 15 g/d placebo (n = 14) for 6 wks. Intestinal permeability was investigated using a multi-sugar test. Sigmoid colon tissue was obtained from a subgroup (n = 26) for analyzing gene transcription and mucosal expression of TJ proteins. Fecal samples were collected to assess microbial composition and activity. Furthermore, the production of cytokines by stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was examined. Blood was also sampled for measuring metabolic markers.

Results: No significant changes in gastrointestinal permeability and TJ protein expression were observed after 6 wks AX supplementation compared to placebo. However, gene transcription of occludin was upregulated in the 7.5 g AX group, and transcription of claudin-3 and claudin-4 were upregulated in the 15 g AX group compared to placebo. Furthermore, fecal microbiota diversity was decreased after 6 wks 15 g AX treatment, but no change in relative abundance of dominant phyla was observed. AX intake significantly decreased fecal pH and increased fecal concentrations of total SCFAs, acetate, propionate and butyrate, compared to placebo. Additionally, a decreased TNFα production by stimulated PBMCs was observed after 15 g AX treatment. No changes in metabolic markers were detected.

Conclusions: Regular consumption of AX resulted in a more beneficial fermentation profile in overweight and obese individuals. Further studies are required to assess whether such fermentation profile will translate into improved gut barrier function and immune health. The trial has been registered at with study ID number NCT01877044.

Keywords: Arabinoxylans; Gut barrier; Gut microbiota; Obesity; Prebiotics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / microbiology*
  • Permeability
  • Xylans / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Xylans
  • arabinoxylan

Associated data