High consumption of fructose and high-fructose corn syrup is related to the development of obesity-associated metabolic diseases, which have become the most relevant diet-induced diseases. However, the influences of a high-fructose diet on gut microbiota are still largely unknown. We therefore examined the effect of short-term high-fructose consumption on the human intestinal microbiota. Twelve healthy adult women were enrolled in a pilot intervention study. All study participants consecutively followed four different diets, first a low fructose diet (< 10 g/day fructose), then a fruit-rich diet (100 g/day fructose) followed by a low fructose diet (10 g/day fructose) and at last a high-fructose syrup (HFS) supplemented diet (100 g/day fructose). Fecal microbiota was analyzed by 16S rRNA sequencing. A high-fructose fruit diet significantly shifted the human gut microbiota by increasing the abundance of the phylum Firmicutes, in which beneficial butyrate producing bacteria such as Faecalibacterium, Anareostipes and Erysipelatoclostridium were elevated, and decreasing the abundance of the phylum Bacteroidetes including the genus Parabacteroides. An HFS diet induced substantial differences in microbiota composition compared to the fruit-rich diet leading to a lower Firmicutes and a higher Bacteroidetes abundance as well as reduced abundance of the genus Ruminococcus. Compared to a low-fructose diet we observed a decrease of Faecalibacterium and Erysipelatoclostridium after the HFS diet. Abundance of Bacteroidetes positively correlated with plasma cholesterol and LDL level, whereas abundance of Firmicutes was negatively correlated. Different formulations of high-fructose diets induce distinct alterations in gut microbiota composition. High-fructose intake by HFS causes a reduction of beneficial butyrate producing bacteria and a gut microbiota profile that may affect unfavorably host lipid metabolism whereas high consumption of fructose from fruit seems to modulate the composition of the gut microbiota in a beneficial way supporting digestive health and counteracting harmful effects of excessive fructose.
Keywords: NAFLD; fructose; host-microbe interactions; metabolic syndrome; microbiota; obesity.