chapter  9
28 Pages

Impact of a Synbiotic Food on the Gut Microbial Ecology and Metabolic Profi les

ByBeatrice Vitali, Maurice Ndagijimana, Federica Cruciani

BEATRICE VITALI, MAURICE NDAGIJIMANA, FEDERICA CRUCIANI, PAOLA CARNEVALI, MARCO CANDELA, MARIA ELISABETTA GUERZONI, AND PATRIZIA BRIGIDI

9.1 BACKGROUND

Humans can be considered as “superorganisms” with an internal ecosystem of diverse symbiotic microorganisms and parasites that have interactive metabolic processes. Their homeostatic balance is dependent upon the interactions between the host and its microbial components [1]. The human intestine is home to some 100 trillion microorganisms of at least 1000 species. The density of bacterial cells in the colon has been estimated at 1011 to 1012 per ml, which makes it one of the most densely populated microbial habitats known [2,3]. This microbial ecosystem serves numerous important functions for the human host, including protection against pathogens, nutrient processing, stimulation of angiogenesis, modulation

of intestinal immune response and regulation of host fat storage [4,5]. The composition of the adult gastrointestinal microbiota has been intensely studied, using both cultivation and, more recently, culture-independent, small subunit (SSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence-based methods [6-8]. Members of the anaerobic genera Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Clostridium, Ruminococcus, and Faecalibacterium have typically been found to comprise a large majority of the human adult gut microbial community. In healthy adults, the gut microbiota consists of a stable individual core of colonizing microorganisms surrounded by temporal visitors [9,10]. Fluctuations around this core of phylotypes are due to host genotype, diet, age, sex, organic disease and drugs (especially antibiotics) [11]. It has been shown that the microbiota structure strongly influences the gut metabolic phenotype [12,13]. On short time scales, the host-specific effects are relatively constant and changes in the gut microbiome composition and activities are closely influenced by dietary variations.