Background: Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics can be used to modulate both the composition and activity of the gut microbiota and thereby potentially affecting host health beneficially. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of eight synbiotic combinations on the composition and activity of human fecal microbiota using a four-stage semicontinuous model system of the human colon. Methods and Findings: Carbohydrates were selected by their ability to enhance growth of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (NCFM) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bl-04 (Bl-04) under laboratory conditions. The most effective carbohydrates for each probiotic were further investigated, using the colonic model, for the ability to support growth of the probiotic bacteria, influence the composition of the microbiota and stimulate formation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).The following combinations were studied: NCFM with isomaltulose, cellobiose, raffinose and an oat β-glucan hydrolysate (OBGH) and Bl-04 with melibiose, xylobiose, raffinose and maltotriose. All carbohydrates showed capable of increasing levels of NCFM and Bl-04 during fermentations in the colonic model by 103-104 fold and 10-102 fold, respectively. Also the synbiotic combinations decreased the modified ratio of Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes (calculated using qPCR results for Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas group, Clostridium perfringens cluster I, Clostridium coccoides - Eubacterium rectale group and Clostridial cluster XIV) as well as significantly increasing SCFA levels, especially acetic and butyric acid, by three to eight fold, as compared to the controls. The decreases in the modified ratio of Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes were found to be correlated to increases in acetic and butyric acid (p = 0.04 and p = 0.03, respectively). Conclusions: The results of this study show that all synbiotic combinations investigated are able to shift the predominant bacteria and the production of SCFA of fecal microbiota in a model system of the human colon, thereby potentially being able to manipulate the microbiota in a way connected to human health. © 2012 van Zanten et al.
van Zanten, G. C., Knudsen, A., Röytiö, H., Forssten, S., Lawther, M., Blennow, A., … Jespersen, L. (2012). The Effect of Selected Synbiotics on Microbial Composition and Short-Chain Fatty Acid Production in a Model System of the Human Colon. PLoS ONE, 7(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047212