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Br J Nutr. 2000 Mar;83(3):247-55.

In vitro fermentability of dextran, oligodextran and maltodextrin by human gut bacteria.

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Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, UK.


Anaerobic batch culture fermenters were used for a preliminary screening of the in vitro utilization by human gut microflora of dextran and novel oligodextrans (I, II and III) produced in the University of Reading (UK). Glucose and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) were used as reference carbohydrates. As expected, FOS acted as a good prebiotic in that it selectively increased numbers of bifidobacteria in the early stages of the fermentation. Dextran and oligodextrans each resulted in an enrichment of bifidobacteria in the batch cultures, with high levels of persistence up to 48 h. They also produced elevated levels of butyrate ranging from 5 to 14.85 mmol/l. To more effectively simulate conditions that prevail in different regions of the large intestine, a three-stage continuous culture cascade system was used to study further the fermentation of dextran, a low-molecular-mass oligodextran (IV) and maltodextrin. Oligodextran IV was shown to be the best substrate for bifidobacteria and lactobacilli with steady-state populations of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli being higher in all three vessels of the gut model than the respective populations resulting from dextran and maltodextrin. A maximum difference of 1.9 log was observed in vessel 1 for both bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the case of dextran fermentation, with 1.4 log and 0.8 log in vessel 3 were the maximum differences for bifidobacteria and lactobacilli when maltodextrin was used as the carbohydrate source. Moreover, dextran and oligodextran appeared to stimulate butyrate production, with a maximum production up to 25.39 mmol/l in vessel 3 when fermenting dextran, followed by 21.70 mmol/l in the case of oligodextran IV and only 12.64 mmol/l in the case of maltodextrin.

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