High plant lignan intake is associated with a number of health benefits, possibly induced by the lignan metabolite enterolactone (ENL). The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in converting dietary lignans into ENL, and epidemiological studies have shown that use of antibiotics is associated with lower levels of ENL. Here we investigate the link between antibiotic use and lignan metabolism in pigs using LC-MS/MS. The effect of lignan intake and antibiotic use on the gut microbial community and the pig metabolome is studied by 16S rRNA sequencing and nontargeted LC-MS. Treatment with antibiotics resulted in substantially lower concentrations of ENL compared with concentrations detected in untreated animals, whereas the plasma concentrations of plant lignans were unchanged. Both diet and antibiotic treatment affected the clustering of urinary metabolites and significantly altered the proportions of taxa in the gut microbiota. Diet, but not antibiotic treatment, affected the plasma lipid profile, and a lower concentration of LDL cholesterol was observed in the pigs fed a high lignan diet. This study provides solid support for the associations between ENL concentrations and use of antibiotics found in humans and indicates that the lower ENL concentration may be a consequence of the ecological changes in the microbiota.
Keywords: antibiotics; enterolactone; lignans; metabolomics; microbiota.