Minimal Influence of Cayenne Pepper on the Human Gastrointestinal Microbiota and Intestinal Inflammation in Healthy Adult Humans-A Pilot Study

Life (Basel). 2022 Nov 11;12(11):1849. doi: 10.3390/life12111849.


Diet impacts human gut microbial composition. Phytochemicals in cayenne pepper (CP), such as capsaicin, have anti-inflammatory properties and alter bacterial growth in vitro. However, the evidence that CP impacts the human microbiota and intestinal inflammation in free-living adults is lacking. Thus, the objective of this randomized cross-over study was to determine the influence of CP on human gut microbiota and intestinal inflammation in vivo. A total of 29 participants were randomly allocated to consume two 250 mL servings of tomato juice plus 1.8 g of CP each day or juice only for 5 days before crossing over to the other study arm. Fecal samples were analyzed. CP reduced Oscillibacter and Phascolarctobacterium but enriched Bifidobacterium and Gp6. When stratified by BMI (body mass index), only the increase in Gp6 was observed in all BMI groups during CP treatment. Stool concentrations of lipocalin-2 and calprotectin were similar regardless of CP treatment. However, lipocalin-2 and calprotectin levels were positively correlated in samples taken after CP consumption. Neither lipocalin-2 nor calprotectin levels were related to gut microbial composition. In conclusion, in healthy adult humans under typical living conditions, consumption of CP minimally influenced the gut microbiota and had little impact on intestinal inflammation.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium; Gp6; Oscillibacter; Phascolarctobacterium; calprotectin; capsaicin; lipocalin-2; tomato juice.