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J Appl Bacteriol. 1995 Aug;79(2):117-27.

Degradation and fermentation of alpha-gluco-oligosaccharides by bacterial strains from human colon: in vitro and in vivo studies in gnotobiotic rats.

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  • 1UEPSD, unité MBS, INRA, CRJ, Jouy en Josas, France.


The ability of several human gut bacteria to break down alpha-1,2 and alpha-1,6 glycosidic linkages in alpha-gluco-oligosaccharides (GOS) was investigated in vitro in substrate utilization tests. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, Bifidobacterium breve and Clostridium butyricum, which are usually found in the infant gut and have been associated with both beneficial and deleterious effects on health, were studied. Alpha-Gluco-oligosaccharide degradation was compared in vitro and in vivo in gnotobiotic rats associated with these organisms, inoculated alone or in combination. Oligomer breakdown and short chain fatty acid and gas production indicated hydrolysis and fermentation of the substrate. In vitro and in vivo, Cl. butyricum was the least efficient in utilizing GOS, whereas Bact. thetaiotaomicron was the most efficient. Kinetic studies on GOS hydrolysis in pH-regulated fermenters showed that alpha-1,2 glucosidic bonds, which characterize the substrate, were more resistant than alpha-1,6 linkages. Adaptation of gnotobiotic rats to a diet containing 2% (w/w) GOS significantly increased the hydrolysis of alpha-1,2 glucosidic bonds. Combination of bacteria in trixenic rats improved GOS degradation and inhibited Cl. butyricum metabolism. This inhibition was confirmed in pH-regulated fermenters containing GOS as the principal carbon source. The association of beneficial bacteria and GOS may therefore have a potential health-promoting effect in human neonates.

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