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J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7):2313-8.

Dietary fructo-oligosaccharides dose-dependently increase translocation of salmonella in rats.

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  • 1Nutrition and Health Program, Wageningen Center for Food Sciences/NIZO Food Research, Ede, The Netherlands.


Prebiotics, such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), stimulate the protective gut microflora, resulting in an increased production of organic acids. This may result in increased luminal killing of acid-sensitive pathogens. However, host defense against invasive pathogens, like salmonella, also depends on the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa. Rapid fermentation of prebiotics leading to high concentrations of organic acids may impair the barrier function. Therefore, we determined the dose-dependent effect of dietary FOS on the resistance of rats to Salmonella enteritidis. Male Wistar rats were fed restricted quantities of a "humanized" purified diet supplemented with 0, 3 or 6 g/100 g of FOS (n = 7 in the 6% FOS group and n = 8 in the other diet groups). After an adaptation period of 2 wk, rats were orally infected with 1.7 x 10(10) colony-forming units of S. enteritidis. Supplement-induced changes in the intestinal microflora and fecal cation excretion were determined before and after infection. Cytotoxicity of fecal water was determined with an in vitro bioassay, and fecal mucins were quantified fluorimetrically. Colonization of S. enteritidis was determined by quantification of salmonella in cecal contents and mucosa. Translocation of S. enteritidis was quantified by analysis of urinary nitric oxide metabolites in time. Before infection, FOS decreased cecal and fecal pH, increased fecal lactic acid concentration and increased bifidobacteria and enterobacteria. FOS also increased cytotoxicity of fecal water and fecal mucin excretion, indicating mucosal irritation. Remarkably, FOS dose-dependently increased salmonella numbers in cecal contents and mucosa and caused a major increase in infection-induced diarrhea. In addition, FOS enhanced translocation of salmonella. Thus, in contrast to most expectations, FOS dose-dependently impairs the resistance to salmonella infection in rats. These results await verification by other controlled animal and human studies.

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