A scientific first: Study highlights potential cardiometabolic benefits of prebiotics

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/ChrisChrisW
© iStock/ChrisChrisW
Supplementing the diet with inulin-type fructans may improve the function of the endothelium in blood vessels and reduce the risk of metabolic disorders-related cardiovascular diseases, says a new study.

Dysfunction of the endothelium – the thin layer of cells lining blood vessels – is an early warning sign of potential cardiovascular diseases. A new study, published in Gut​, indicates that the inulin-type fructans could improve endothelial function in a mouse model.

The prebiotic was associated with an increase in bacteria that produce nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator that improves blood flow, as well as an improvement in the abundance of Akkermansia​, a bacterium that has been reported to have anti-obesity effects.

“[O]ur findings pave the way for innovative therapeutic approaches in prevention of human vascular dysfunction, for which no treatment has been successfully proposed so far,” ​wrote the researchers, led by Professor Nathalie Delzenne from the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

"The study holds much promise moving forward"

Commenting independently on the study, Glenn Gibson, Professor of Food Microbiology and head of Food Microbial Sciences at the University of Reading in the UK, and a pioneer and world-renowned expert in prebiotics, told NutraIngredients-USA: "This is a very interesting study that aims to identify the health aspects of dietary modulation using prebiotics. A well recognized prebiotic is used to look at at topical issue, namely metabolic disorder and endothelial dysfunction. These were positively affected through the use of inulin in a mouse model. There are clear implications for cardiovascular risk.

"As the authors acknowledge, these data need to be repeated in humans - which would be the definitive test of success. However, the study holds much promise moving forward and the research is also driven by a mechanistic rather than observational, outlook."

Study details

Blood flow © iStock CreVis2
The endothelium refers to cells lining the walls of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is an early warning sign of potential cardiovascular diseases. Image: © iStock

Researchers from 11 institutions in Belgium and France participated in the study. They used apolipoprotein E knockout (Apoe-/-) mice that were fed a diet poor in omega-3s to induce vascular dysfunction. The animals were then divided into one of two groups and fed the same diet with or without inulin-type fructans.

The results showed that the prebiotic-fed mice showed a total reversal in endothelial dysfunction, and this occurred via an activation of the NO synthase/NO pathway, said the researchers.

In addition to an increase in NO-producing bacteria and the boost in Akkermansia​, Prof Delzenne and her co-workers reported that the prebiotics were associated with a decrease in the abundance of bacteria involved in the synthesis of bile acids.

Further analysis revealed that the prebiotics also changed gene expression in the gut and liver.

“We demonstrate for the first time that [inulin-type fructans] improve endothelial dysfunction, implicating a short-term adaptation of both gut microbiota and key gut peptides,” ​wrote the researchers. “If confirmed in humans, prebiotics could be proposed as a novel approach in the prevention of metabolic disorders-related cardiovascular diseases.”

Source: Gut
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313316
“Targeting the gut microbiota with inulin-type fructans: preclinical demonstration of a novel approach in the management of endothelial dysfunction”
Authors: E. Catry et al. 

IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas 2017

Prebiotics will be the focus of a dedicated workshop at the upcoming IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas 2017 event in San Francisco, June 7-9. For more information and to register, please click HERE​. 

Probiota Americas 2017

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