(1) Background: Alterations in the structural composition of the human gut microbiota have been identified in various disease entities along with exciting mechanistic clues by reductionist gnotobiotic modeling. Improving health by beneficially modulating an altered microbiota is a promising treatment approach. Prebiotics, substrates selectively used by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit, are broadly used for dietary and clinical interventions. Herein, we sought to investigate the microbiota-modelling effects of the soluble fiber, partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). (2) Methods: We performed a 9 week clinical trial in 20 healthy volunteers that included three weeks of a lead-in period, followed by three weeks of an intervention phase, wherein study subjects received 5 g PHGG up to three times per day, and concluding with a three-week washout period. A stool diary was kept on a daily basis, and clinical data along with serum/plasma and stool samples were collected on a weekly basis. PHGG-induced alterations of the gut microbiota were studied by 16S metagenomics of the V1-V3 and V3-V4 regions. To gain functional insight, we further studied stool metabolites using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. (3) Results: In healthy subjects, PHGG had significant effects on stool frequency and consistency. These effects were paralleled by changes in α- (species evenness) and β-diversity (Bray-Curtis distances), along with increasing abundances of metabolites including butyrate, acetate and various amino acids. On a taxonomic level, PHGG intake was associated with a bloom in Ruminococcus, Fusicatenibacter, Faecalibacterium and Bacteroides and a reduction in Roseburia, Lachnospiracea and Blautia. The majority of effects disappeared after stopping the prebiotic and most effects tended to be more pronounced in male participants. (4) Conclusions: Herein, we describe novel aspects of the prebiotic PHGG on compositional and functional properties of the healthy human microbiota.
Keywords: PHGG; SCFA; fiber; microbiota; partially hydrolyzed guar gum; prebiotics; short-chain fatty acids.