Prebiotic milk oligosaccharides prevent development of obese phenotype, impairment of gut permeability, and microbial dysbiosis in high fat-fed mice

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2017 May 1;312(5):G474-G487. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00427.2016. Epub 2017 Mar 9.


Microbial dysbiosis and increased intestinal permeability are targets for prevention or reversal of weight gain in high-fat (HF) diet-induced obesity (DIO). Prebiotic milk oligosaccharides (MO) have been shown to benefit the host intestine but have not been used in DIO. We hypothesized that supplementation with bovine MO would prevent the deleterious effect of HF diet on the gut microbiota and intestinal permeability and attenuate development of the obese phenotype. C57BL/6 mice were fed a control diet, HF (40% fat/kcal), or HF + prebiotic [6%/kg bovine milk oligosaccharides (BMO) or inulin] for 1, 3, or 6 wk. Gut microbiota and intestinal permeability were assessed in the ileum, cecum, and colon. Addition of BMO to the HF diet significantly attenuated weight gain, decreased adiposity, and decreased caloric intake; inulin supplementation also lowered weight gain and adiposity, but this did not reach significance. BMO and inulin completely abolished the HF diet-induced increase in paracellular and transcellular permeability in the small and large intestine. Both BMO and inulin increased abundance of beneficial microbes Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the ileum. However, inulin supplementation altered phylogenetic diversity and decreased species richness. We conclude that addition of BMO to the HF diet completely prevented increases in intestinal permeability and microbial dysbiosis and was partially effective to prevent weight gain in DIO.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study provides the first report of the effects of prebiotic bovine milk oligosaccharides on the host phenotype of high-fat diet-induced obesity in mice.

Keywords: adiposity; epithelial permeability; obesity; prebiotic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dysbiosis / drug therapy*
  • Dysbiosis / etiology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Oligosaccharides / administration & dosage*
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics