Effect of Low-Protein Diet and Inulin on Microbiota and Clinical Parameters in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease

Nutrients. 2019 Dec 9;11(12):3006. doi: 10.3390/nu11123006.


Introduction: The gut microbiota has coevolved with humans for a mutually beneficial coexistence and plays an important role in health and disease. A dysbiotic gut microbiome may contribute to progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and CKD-related complications such as cardiovascular disease. Microbiota modulation through the administration of prebiotics may represent an important therapeutic target.

Aim: We sought to evaluate the effects of a low-protein diet (LPD) (0.6 g/kg/day) with or without the intake of the prebiotic inulin (19 g/day) on microbiota and clinical parameters in CKD patients.

Materials and methods: We performed a longitudinal, prospective, controlled, and interventional study on 16 patients: 9 patients treated with LPD (0.6 g/kg/day) and inulin (19 g/day) and 7 patients (control group) treated only with LPD (0.6 g/kg/day). Clinical evaluations were performed and fecal samples were collected for a subsequent evaluation of the intestinal microbiota in all patients. These tests were carried out before the initiation of LPD, with or without inulin, at baseline (T0) and at 6 months (T2). The microbiota of 16 healthy control (HC) subjects was also analyzed in order to identify potential dysbiosis between patients and healthy subjects.

Results: Gut microbiota of CKD patients was different from that of healthy controls. The LPD was able to significantly increase the frequencies of Akkermansiaceae and Bacteroidaceae and decrease the frequencies of Christensenellaceae, Clostridiaceae, Lactobacillaceae, and Pasteurellaceae. Only Bifidobacteriaceae were increased when the LPD was accompanied by oral inulin intake. We showed a significant reduction of serum uric acid (SUA) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in patients treated with LPD and inulin (p = 0.018 and p = 0.003, respectively), an improvement in SF-36 (physical role functioning and general health perceptions; p = 0.03 and p = 0.01, respectively), and a significant increase of serum bicarbonate both in patients treated with LPD (p = 0.026) or with LPD and inulin (p = 0.01). Moreover, in patients treated with LPD and inulin, we observed a significant reduction in circulating tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) (p = 0.041) and plasma nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (NOX2) (p = 0.027) levels. We did not find a significant difference in the circulating levels of Interleukin (IL)-1β (p = 0.529) and IL-6 (p = 0.828) in the two groups.

Conclusions: LPD, associated or not with inulin, modified gut microbiota and modulated inflammatory and metabolic parameters in patients with CKD. Our results suggest that interventions attempting to modulate the gut microbiome may represent novel strategies to improve clinical outcomes in CKD patients and may provide useful therapeutic effects.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; endothelial dysfunction; inulin; low-protein diet; microbiota; prebiotic therapy.

MeSH terms

  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Controlled Before-After Studies
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inulin / administration & dosage*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diet therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / microbiology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Uric Acid
  • Inulin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • NADPH Oxidases