AMB Express 2019 DOI: 10.1186/s13568-019-0925-z

Comparative prebiotic activity of mixtures of cereal grain polysaccharides

Suzanne Harris, Andrea Monteagudo-Mera, Ondrej Kosik, Dimitris Charalampopoulos, Peter Shewry, Alison Lovegrove
Abstract: The main components of the non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) fraction of wheat flour are arabinoxylan (AX) and β-glucan. These are also present in other cereal grains, but their proportions vary with AX being the major component in wheat and rye and β-glucan in barley and oats. Therefore, it was hypothesised that these NSPs could act synergistically when fermented in vitro at the ratios present in the major foods consumed, resulting in increased prebiotic activity. AX and β-glucan were therefore tested in in vitro fermentation studies to assess their prebiotic activity when used individually and/or in different ratios. Short-chain fatty-acids (SCFAs) produced from in vitro fermentation were measured using HPLC and bacterial populations were measured using flow cytometry with fluorescence in situ hybridisation (Flow-FISH). Fermentation of AX alone resulted in a significant bifidogenic activity and increased concentrations of SCFAs, mainly acetate, after 8–24 h of fermentation, however β-glucan alone did not show prebiotic activity. The greatest prebiotic activity, based on concentration of total SCFAs and increases in total bacteria as well as beneficial Bifidobacterium and Clostridium coccoides/Eubacterium groups, was observed when AX and β-glucan were combined at a 3:1 ratio, which corresponds to their ratios in wheat flour which is major source of cereal fibre in the diet. This indicates that the population of bacteria in the human GI tract may be modulated by the composition of the fibre in the diet, to maximise the prebiotic potential.

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