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Age-specific prebiotics: HMOs vs fructans

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There is growing awareness that interpersonal and age-dependent differences in gut microbiota composition impact prebiotic effects. The present study investigated the age-dependent prebiotic effect of fructans and HMOs in children and adults. For the fructans, inulin and FOS are well-established prebiotics. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), on the other hand, are a more recent class of prebiotics that consist of a broader range of monosaccharide components and glycosidic linkage types, impacting their utilisation by the microbiota. Relying on the high throughput of the ex vivo SIFR® technology, all these actives were investigated in parallel on the gut microbiota of children and adults. The resulting compositional shift can be divided into three categories: bifidogenic across ages, for children, or for adults. Furthermore, age-specific compositional shifts occurred (B. pseudocatenulatum, and various Bacteroides spp for children; B. adolescentis, and various Phocaeicola spp). Lastly, by combining targeted analysis and untargeted metabolomics, health-promoting metabolites connected to the gut-brain axis, immunity, and overall gut health were found to be associated with those compositional changes. In conclusion, HMOs are promising modulators of the adult and particularly the children’s microbiota.

Full article: Van den Abbeele et al, 2023, International Journal of Molecular Sciences