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J Nutr Sci. 2013 Jul 24;2:e20. doi: 10.1017/jns.2012.29. eCollection 2013.

Feeding spinach thylakoids to rats modulates the gut microbiota, decreases food intake and affects the insulin response.

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Department of Experimental Medical Science , Lund University , Lund , Sweden.
Department of Biology , Lund University , Lund , Sweden.
Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition , Lund University , Lund , Sweden.
Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology , Lund University , Lund , Sweden.


Thylakoid membranes derived from green leaf chloroplasts affect appetite-regulating hormones, suppress food intake, reduce blood lipids and lead to a decreased body weight in animals and human subjects. Thylakoids also decrease the intestinal in vitro uptake of methyl-glucose in the rat. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary thylakoids on the gut microbiota composition, mainly the taxa of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, in rats fed either a thylakoid-enriched diet or a control diet for 10 d. At the same time, a glucose-tolerance test in the same rats was also performed. Food intake was significantly decreased in the thylakoid-fed rats compared with the control-fed rats over the 10-d study. An oral glucose tolerance test after 10 d of thylakoid- or control-food intake resulted in significantly reduced plasma insulin levels in the thylakoid-fed rats compared with the control-fed rats, while no difference was observed for blood glucose levels. Analysis of gut bacteria showed a significant increase of lactobacilli on the ileal mucosa, specifically Lactobacillus reuteri, in the rats fed the thylakoid diet compared with rats fed the control diet, while faecal lactobacilli decreased. No difference in bifidobacteria between the thylakoid and control groups was found. Analyses with terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and principal component analysis of faeces demonstrated different microbial populations in the thylakoid- and control-fed animals. These findings indicate that thylakoids modulate the gut microbial composition, which might be important for the regulation of body weight and energy metabolism.


Colon; Lactobacilli; MW, modified Wilkins–Chalgren; OGTT, oral glucose tolerance test; Obesity; PCA, principal component analysis; Quantitative PCR; Small intestine; T-RFLP, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism; qPCR, quantitative PCR

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