J Nutr. 2007 Nov;137(11):2568S-71S.
Studies with inulin-type fructans on intestinal infections, permeability, and inflammation.
Guarner F. Digestive System Research Unit, University Hospital Vall d'Hebron, CIBEREHD, Barcelona, Spain.
Symbiosis between host and gut bacteria can be optimized by prebiotics. Inulin-type fructans have been shown to improve the microbial balance of the intestinal ecosystem by stimulating the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These changes have been associated with several health benefits, including the prevention of gastrointestinal and systemic infections in animal models and human studies. Inulin-type fructans induce changes of the intestinal mucosa characterized by higher villi, deeper crypts, increased number of goblet cells, and a thicker mucus layer on the colonic epithelium. Bacterial antagonism and competition of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli with pathogens, as well as the trophic effects on the intestinal epithelium, may explain the protective role of inulin against enteric infections. In contrast, studies with rats fed a low-calcium diet suggested a negative effect of prebiotics on intestinal barrier function. However, the adverse effect was clearly ascribed to the strong reduction of dietary calcium, as it could be reversed by oral administration of calcium. The adverse effect of a low-calcium diet on intestinal permeability has not been observed in humans. Inulin and oligofructose are now being tested in human studies aimed at prevention of bacterial translocation in critical health conditions. Mixtures of probiotics and prebiotics including inulin or oligofructose significantly reduced the rate of postoperative infections in liver transplant patients. Finally, inulin and oligofructose have proven useful to prevent mucosal inflammatory disorders in animal models and in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
PMID: 17951504 [PubMed - in process]