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Br J Nutr. 2014 May;111(9):1602-10. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513004200. Epub 2014 Jan 10.

Selective proliferation of intestinal Barnesiella under fucosyllactose supplementation in mice.

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Institute of Physiology and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057, Zurich, Switzerland.
Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.


The oligosaccharides 2-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose are major constituents of human breast milk but are not found in mouse milk. Milk oligosaccharides have a prebiotic action, thus affecting the colonisation of the infant intestine by microbiota. To determine the specific effect of fucosyllactose exposure on intestinal microbiota in mice, in the present study, we orally supplemented newborn mice with pure 2-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose. Exposure to 2-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose increased the levels of bacteria of the Porphyromonadaceae family in the intestinal gut, more precisely members of the genus Barnesiella as analysed by 16S pyrosequencing. The ability of Barnesiella to utilise fucosyllactose as energy source was confirmed in bacterial cultures. Whereas B. intestinihominis and B. viscericola did not grow on fucose alone, they proliferated in the presence of 2-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose following the secretion of linkage-specific fucosidase enzymes that liberated lactose. The change in the composition of intestinal microbiota mediated by fucosyllactose supplementation affected the susceptibility of mice to dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis, as indicated by increased resistance of mice subjected to 2-fucosyllactose supplementation for 6 weeks. The present study underlines the ability of specific milk oligosaccharides to change the composition of intestinal microbiota and thereby to shape an intestinal milieu resilient to inflammatory diseases.

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