Ruminiclostridium 5, Parabacteroides distasonis, and bile acid profile are modulated by prebiotic diet and associate with facilitated sleep/clock realignment after chronic disruption of rhythms

Brain Behav Immun. 2021 Oct:97:150-166. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2021.07.006. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Chronic disruption of rhythms (CDR) impacts sleep and can result in circadian misalignment of physiological systems which, in turn, is associated with increased disease risk. Exposure to repeated or severe stressors also disturbs sleep and diurnal rhythms. Prebiotic nutrients produce favorable changes in gut microbial ecology, the gut metabolome, and reduce several negative impacts of acute severe stressor exposure, including disturbed sleep, core body temperature rhythmicity, and gut microbial dysbiosis. In light of previous compelling evidence that prebiotic diet broadly reduces negative impacts of acute, severe stressors, we hypothesize that prebiotic diet will also effectively mitigate the negative impacts of chronic disruption of circadian rhythms on physiology and sleep/wake behavior. Male, Sprague Dawley rats were fed diets enriched in prebiotic substrates or calorically matched control chow. After 5 weeks on diet, rats were exposed to CDR (12 h light/dark reversal, weekly for 8 weeks) or remained on undisturbed normal light/dark cycles (NLD). Sleep EEG, core body temperature, and locomotor activity were recorded via biotelemetry in freely moving rats. Fecal samples were collected on experimental days -33, 0 (day of onset of CDR), and 42. Taxonomic identification and relative abundances of gut microbes were measured in fecal samples using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and shotgun metagenomics. Fecal primary, bacterially modified secondary, and conjugated bile acids were measured using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Prebiotic diet produced rapid and stable increases in the relative abundances of Parabacteroides distasonis and Ruminiclostridium 5. Shotgun metagenomics analyses confirmed reliable increases in relative abundances of Parabacteroides distasonis and Clostridium leptum, a member of the Ruminiclostridium genus. Prebiotic diet also modified fecal bile acid profiles; and based on correlational and step-wise regression analyses, Parabacteroides distasonis and Ruminiclostridium 5 were positively associated with each other and negatively associated with secondary and conjugated bile acids. Prebiotic diet, but not CDR, impacted beta diversity. Measures of alpha diversity evenness were decreased by CDR and prebiotic diet prevented that effect. Rats exposed to CDR while eating prebiotic, compared to control diet, more quickly realigned NREM sleep and core body temperature (ClockLab) diurnal rhythms to the altered light/dark cycle. Finally, both cholic acid and Ruminiclostridium 5 prior to CDR were associated with time to realign CBT rhythms to the new light/dark cycle after CDR; whereas both Ruminiclostridium 5 and taurocholic acid prior to CDR were associated with NREM sleep recovery after CDR. These results support our hypothesis and suggest that ingestion of prebiotic substrates is an effective strategy to increase the relative abundance of health promoting microbes, alter the fecal bile acid profile, and facilitate the recovery and realignment of sleep and diurnal rhythms after circadian disruption.

Keywords: Bile acid; Cholic acid; Circadian; Clostridium leptum; Galactooligosaccharide; Parabacteroides distasonis; Polydextrose; Prebiotic; Ruminiclostridium 5; Sleep; Taurocholic acid; Temperature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteroidetes
  • Bile Acids and Salts*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Diet
  • Male
  • Prebiotics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Prebiotics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Supplementary concepts

  • Parabacteroides distasonis