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Int J Food Microbiol. 2009 Aug 31;134(1-2):147-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.04.016. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

Effect of a synbiotic food consumption on human gut metabolic profiles evaluated by (1)H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, 40127, Bologna, Italy.


The capacity of human lactobacilli and bifidobacteria to produce metabolites under conditions that may prevail in the human intestine has been studied "in vitro". However, the effect of systematic probiotic consumption on human metabolic phenotype has not been investigated in faeces. This paper shows the potential for the use of (1)H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance ((1)H NMR) spectroscopy for studying the changes of the metabolic profiles of human faecal slurries. Faeces of 16 subjects, characterized by different natural levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria were recovered before and after 1 month of supplementation with a synbiotic food based on Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum and fructooligosaccharides, and analyzed by (1)H NMR. Multivariate statistical approach has been applied to the data obtained and particularly Canonical Discriminant Analysis of Principal Coordinates (CAP). More than 150 molecules belonging to short chain fatty acids, organic acids, esters, alcohols and amino acids were detected and quantified in the samples considered. The number and the extent of these molecules in faecal slurries were strongly affected by the synbiotic food consumption and gave rise to characteristic metabolic signature. In particular, the short chain fatty acid concentrations significantly increased while the amino acids contents decreased. The comparison of the data indicated that the intake of the synbiotic food alters the host metabolism in a measure dependent on the initial level of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria detected in the faecal specimens. The analysis of (1)H NMR profiles with CAP allowed a separation of faecal samples of the subjects on the basis of the synbiotic food intake. The multivariate statistical approach used demonstrated the potential of NMR metabolic profiles to provide biomarkers of the gut-microbial activity related to dietary supplementation of probiotics.

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