Volume 75, Issue 4 p. 373-380

Effects of the in vitro fermentation of oligofructose and inulin by bacteria growing in the human large intestine

X. Wang

X. Wang

MRC Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, UK

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G.R. Gibson

Corresponding Author

G.R. Gibson

MRC Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, UK

MRC Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, 100 Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QL, UK.Search for more papers by this author
First published: October 1993
Citations: 489

Abstract

The in vitro fermentability of oligofructose and inulin was compared with a range of reference carbohydrates by measuring bacterial end-product formation in batch culture. Short chain fatty acid and gas formation indicated that these substrates, which occur naturally in the diet and reach the colon in a largely intact form, were utilized by mixed populations of gut bacteria. Bacterial growth data showed that oligofructose and inulin exerted a preferential stimulatory effect on numbers of the health-promoting genus Bifidobacterium, whilst maintaining populations of potential pathogens (Escherichia coli, Clostridium) at relatively low levels. Pure culture studies confirmed the enhanced ability of bifidobacteria to utilize these substrates in comparison with glucose. Batch culture experiments demonstrated that the growth of Bifidobacterium infantis had an inhibitory effect towards E. coli and Clostridium perfringens. Potentially, an increase in the concentration of these substrates in the diet may therefore improve the composition of the large intestinal microflora and have positive effects on the quality of the Western diet.