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Eur J Nutr. 2006 Feb;45(1):45-51. Epub 2005 Apr 25.

Suitability of a batch in vitro fermentation model using human faecal microbiota for prediction of conversion of flaxseed lignans to enterolactone with reference to an in vivo rat model.

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VTT Biotechnology, 1500, 02044 VTT, Finland.



In vitro fermentation models have been used widely for studies of shortchain fatty acid (SCFA) formation from carbohydrates, whereas the suitability of these methods for enterolactone (ENL) formation has received less attention.


The aim was to study the suitability of an in vitro fermentation model for prediction of bioconversion of lignans to ENL, to compare the approach with that of an in vivo rat model and to study the SCFA formation in both models.


Predigested samples of rye bran (R), flaxseed meal (F) alone, or in combination with rye bran (R&F) and a faecal control were incubated in an in vitro fermentation model using human faecal microbiota. In the in vivo experiment rats consumed a non-fibre control diet (C) or diets supplemented either with rye bran (R), flaxseed meal (F) alone, or with their combination (R&F) for four weeks. Enterodiol (END), ENL and SCFA concentrations were measured from in vitro faecal fermentation samples and from the intestinal contents of rats. Plasma ENL concentrations from rats were also measured.


The highest ENL production was found in vitro with the F supplement (areas under curve: 740 +/- 4, 7,500 +/- 400, 2,600 +/- 500 and 1,520 +/- 70 nmol x h for the R, F, R&F supplements and faecal control, respectively). In vivo, the concentration of ENL in caecal digesta from flaxseed meal was significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced by the presence of rye bran (medians 261, 407 and 24 nmol/g in the F, R&F and C groups, respectively). No correlation was found between the models regarding ENL production, possibly due to different responses to the presence of rye bran matrix, differences in microbiota or application of a batch in the in vitro fermentation model. Rye bran supplementation enhanced butyrate production both in vitro and in vivo.


In vitro fermentation and the in vivo rat models responded differently to the presence of rye bran and no correlation with regard to the ENL formation from flaxseed lignans was observed.

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