In Vitro Colonic Fermentation of Saponin-Rich Extracts from Quinoa, Lentil, and Fenugreek. Effect on Sapogenins Yield and Human Gut Microbiota

J Agric Food Chem. 2020 Jan 8;68(1):106-116. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b05659. Epub 2019 Dec 24.


In vitro colonic fermentation of saponin-rich extracts from quinoa, lentil, and fenugreek was performed. Production of sapogenins by human fecal microbiota and the impact of extracts on representative intestinal bacterial groups were evaluated. The main sapogenins were found after fermentation (soyasapogenol B for lentil; oleanolic acid, hederagenin, phytolaccagenic acid, and serjanic acid for quinoa; and sarsasapogenin, diosgenin, and neotigogenin acetate for fenugreek). Interindividual differences were observed, but the highest production of sapogenins corresponded to quinoa (90 μg/mL) and fenugreek (70 μg/mL) extracts, being minor for lentil (4 μg/mL). Lentil and quinoa extracts showed a general antimicrobial effect, mainly on lactic acid bacteria and Lactobacillus spp. Significant increases of Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. were observed for fenugreek in one volunteer. Thus, the transformation of saponin-rich extracts of quinoa, lentil, and fenugreek to sapogenins by human gut microbiota is demonstrated, exhibiting a modulatory effect on the growth of selected intestinal bacteria.

Keywords: diosgenin; gut microbiota; in vitro fermentation; oleanolic acid; prebiotic-like effects; sapogenins; saponins; soyasapogenol.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Chenopodium quinoa / metabolism*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Lens Plant / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism*
  • Sapogenins / metabolism*
  • Saponins / metabolism*
  • Trigonella / metabolism*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Sapogenins
  • Saponins