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FASEB J. 2013 Feb;27(2):692-702. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-219477. Epub 2012 Nov 14.

The nonfermentable dietary fiber hydroxypropyl methylcellulose modulates intestinal microbiota.

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Department of Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.


Diet influences host metabolism and intestinal microbiota; however, detailed understanding of this tripartite interaction is limited. To determine whether the nonfermentable fiber hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) could alter the intestinal microbiota and whether such changes correlated with metabolic improvements, C57B/L6 mice were normalized to a high-fat diet (HFD), then either maintained on HFD (control), or switched to HFD supplemented with 10% HPMC, or a low-fat diet (LFD). Compared to control treatment, both LFD and HPMC reduced weight gain (11.8 and 5.7 g, respectively), plasma cholesterol (23.1 and 19.6%), and liver triglycerides (73.1 and 44.6%), and, as revealed by 454-pyrosequencing of the microbial 16S rRNA gene, decreased microbial α-diversity and differentially altered intestinal microbiota. Both LFD and HPMC increased intestinal Erysipelotrichaceae (7.3- and 12.4-fold) and decreased Lachnospiraceae (2.0- and 2.7-fold), while only HPMC increased Peptostreptococcaceae (3.4-fold) and decreased Ruminococcaceae (2.7-fold). Specific microorganisms were directly linked with weight change and metabolic parameters in HPMC and HFD mice, but not in LFD mice, indicating that the intestinal microbiota may play differing roles during the two dietary modulations. This work indicates that HPMC is a potential prebiotic fiber that influences intestinal microbiota and improves host metabolism.

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