Dietary Slowly Digestible Starch Triggers the Gut-Brain Axis in Obese Rats with Accompanied Reduced Food Intake

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Mar;62(5):10.1002/mnfr.201700117. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700117. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Scope: Slowly digestible starch (SDS), as a functional carbohydrate providing a slow and sustained glucose release, may be able to modulate food intake through activation of the gut-brain axis.

Methods and results: Diet-induced obese rats were used to test the effect on feeding behavior of high-fat (HF) diets containing an SDS, fabricated to digest into the ileum, as compared to rapidly digestible starch (RDS). Ingestion of the HF-SDS diet over an 11-week period reduced daily food intake, through smaller meal size, to the same level as a lean body control group, while the group consuming the HF-RDS diet remained at a high food intake. Expression levels (mRNA) of the hypothalamic orexigenic neuropeptide Y (NPY) and Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) were significantly reduced, and the anorexigenic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) was increased, in the HF-SDS fed group compared to the HF-RDS group, and to the level of the lean control group.

Conclusion: SDS with digestion into the ileum reduced daily food intake and paralleled suppressed expression of appetite-stimulating neuropeptide genes associated with the gut-brain axis. This novel finding suggests further exploration involving a clinical study and potential development of SDS-based functional foods as an approach to obesity control.

Keywords: food intake; gut-brain axis; meal size; obesity; slowly digestible starch.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Functional Food*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microspheres
  • Neuropeptide Y / genetics
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Starch / administration & dosage*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Starch