Effect of a polyphenol-rich dietary pattern on intestinal permeability and gut and blood microbiomics in older subjects: study protocol of the MaPLE randomised controlled trial

BMC Geriatr. 2020 Feb 26;20(1):77. doi: 10.1186/s12877-020-1472-9.


Background: During aging, alterations of the intestinal microbial ecosystem can occur contributing to immunosenescence, inflamm-aging and impairment of intestinal barrier function (increased intestinal permeability; IP). In the context of a diet-microbiota-IP axis in older subjects, food bioactives such as polyphenols may play a beneficial modulatory role.

Methods: MaPLE is a project centered on a randomized, controlled cross-over dietary intervention trial [polyphenol-rich diet (PR-diet) versus control diet (C-diet)] targeted to older people (≥ 60 y) living in a well-controlled setting (i.e. nursing home). The 8-week interventions are separated by an 8-week wash-out period. Three small portions per day of selected polyphenol-rich foods are consumed during intervention in substitution of other comparable products within the C-diet. Biological samples are collected before and after each treatment period to evaluate markers related to IP, inflammation, vascular function, oxidative stress, gut and blood microbiomics, metabolomics. A sample size of 50 subjects was defined based on IP as primary outcome.

Discussion: Evidence that increasing the consumption of polyphenol-rich food products can positively affect intestinal microbial ecosystem resulting in reduced IP and decreased translocation of inflammogenic bacterial factors into the bloodstream will be provided. The integration of data from gut and blood microbiomics, metabolomics and other IP-related markers will improve the understanding of the beneficial effect of the intervention in the context of polyphenols-microbiota-IP interactions. Finally, findings obtained will provide a proof of concept of the reliability of the dietary intervention, also contributing to future implementations of dietary guidelines directed to IP management in the older and other at risk subjects.

Trial registration: The trial is registered at (ISRCTN10214981); April 28, 2017.

Keywords: Aging; Flavonoids; Gut barrier function; Inflamm-aging; Inflammation; Leaky gut; Phenolics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Microbiota
  • Middle Aged
  • Permeability
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Polyphenols

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN10214981