Kiwifruit are a nutrient dense food and an excellent source of vitamin C. Supplementation of the diet with kiwifruit enhances plasma vitamin C status and epidemiological studies have shown an association between vitamin C status and reduced insulin resistance and improved blood glucose control. In vitro experiments suggest that eating kiwifruit might induce changes to microbiota composition and function; however, human studies to confirm these findings are lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of consuming two SunGold kiwifruit per day over 12 weeks on vitamin C status, clinical and anthropometric measures and faecal microbiota composition in people with prediabetes. This pilot intervention trial compared baseline measurements with those following the intervention. Participants completed a physical activity questionnaire and a three-day estimated food diary at baseline and on completion of the trial. Venous blood samples were collected at each study visit (baseline, 6, 12 weeks) for determination of glycaemic indices, plasma vitamin C concentrations, hormones, lipid profiles and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Participants provided a faecal sample at each study visit. DNA was extracted from the faecal samples and a region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene was amplified and sequenced to determine faecal microbiota composition. When week 12 measures were compared to baseline, results showed a significant increase in plasma vitamin C (14 µmol/L, p < 0.001). There was a significant reduction in both diastolic (4 mmHg, p = 0.029) and systolic (6 mmHg, p = 0.003) blood pressure and a significant reduction in waist circumference (3.1 cm, p = 0.001) and waist-to-hip ratio (0.01, p = 0.032). Results also showed a decrease in HbA1c (1 mmol/mol, p = 0.005) and an increase in fasting glucose (0.1 mmol/L, p = 0.046), however, these changes were small and were not clinically significant. Analysis of faecal microbiota composition showed an increase in the relative abundance of as yet uncultivated and therefore uncharacterised members of the bacterial family Coriobacteriaceae. Novel bacteriological investigations of Coriobacteriaceae are required to explain their functional relationship to kiwifruit polysaccharides and polyphenols.
Keywords: Coriobacteriaceae; HbA1c; blood pressure; glucose; glycaemic control; gut microbiota; kiwifruit; vitamin C; waist circumference.