Alteration of Community Metabolism by Prebiotics and Medicinal Herbs

Microorganisms. 2023 Mar 28;11(4):868. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms11040868.


Several studies have examined the impact of prebiotics on gut microbiota and associated changes in host physiology. Here, we used the in vitro cultivation of human fecal samples stimulated with a series of chemically related prebiotics and medicinal herbs commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, followed by 16S rRNA sequencing. We applied a genome-wide metabolic reconstruction of enumerated communities to compare and contrast the structural and functional impact of prebiotics and medicinal herbs. In doings so, we examined the relationships between discrete variations in sugar composition and sugar linkages associated with each prebiotic to drive changes in microbiota composition. The restructuring of microbial communities with glycan substrates alters community metabolism and its potential impact on host physiology. We analyzed sugar fermentation pathways and products predicted to be formed and prebiotic-induced changes in vitamin and amino acid biosynthesis and degradation. These results highlight the utility of combining a genome-wide metabolic reconstruction methodology with 16S rRNA sequence-based community profiles to provide insights pertaining to community metabolism. This process also provides a rational means for prioritizing in vivo analysis of prebiotics and medicinal herbs in vivo to test hypotheses related to therapeutic potential in specific diseases of interest.

Keywords: community metabolism; genome-wide metabolic reconstruction; glycan; glycosyl hydrolases; gut microbiota; medicinal herb; prebiotic; prebiotics; short-chain fatty acid.