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Br J Nutr. 2007 Jul;98(1):32-7. Epub 2007 Mar 19.

Dietary non-digestible carbohydrates promote L-cell differentiation in the proximal colon of rats.

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Unit of Pharmacokinetics, Metabolism, Nutrition and Toxicology, PMNT 73/69, Université catholique de Louvain, Av E Mounier, Brussels, Belgium.


One of the challenges in type 2 diabetes treatment is to ensure pancreas functionality with gut peptides such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). We have recently shown that the endogenous GLP-1 production is promoted by dietary non-digestible carbohydrates (oligofructose), the higher GLP-1 secretion could participate in the control of obesity and associated disorders. This experimental study was designed to highlight the mechanisms of endogenous increase of GLP-1 following non-digestible carbohydrate feeding. Male Wistar rats were fed a standard diet (70.4 g/100 g total carbohydrates; controls) or the same diet supplemented with oligofructose (10 g/100 g diet) for 4 weeks. GLP-1-producing L-cells of the colon were quantified by immunohistochemistry. GLP-1 was quantified by ELISA, and proglucagon, neurogenin 3 and NeuroD mRNA were measured in the colon by quantitative RT-PCR. The number of GLP-1-expressing cells was doubled in the proximal colon of oligofructose-treated rats, a phenomenon correlated with the increase in proglucagon mRNA and peptide content in the tissue. Moreover, oligofructose increased the number of enteroendocrine L-cells in the proximal colon by a mechanism involving up-regulation of two differentiation factors: neurogenin 3 and NeuroD. It is the first demonstration that nutrients fermented in the gut may promote L-cell differentiation in the proximal colon, a phenomenon contributing to a higher endogenous GLP-1 production. These results suggest a new mechanism by which dietary fibres may lower food intake and fat mass development.

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