Adaptation to tolerate high doses of arabinoxylan is associated with fecal levels of Bifidobacterium longum

Edward C. Deehan (Corresponding author), Zhengxiao Zhang, Nguyen K. Nguyen, Maria Elisa Perez-Muñoz, Janis Cole, Alessandra Riva, David Berry, Carla M. Prado, Jens Walter (Corresponding author)

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Dietary fiber supplements are a strategy to close the ‘fiber gap’ and induce targeted modulations of the gut microbiota. However, higher doses of fiber supplements cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that differ among individuals. What determines these inter-individual differences is insufficiently understood. Here we analyzed findings from a six-week randomized controlled trial that evaluated GI symptoms to corn bran arabinoxylan (AX; n = 15) relative to non-fermentable microcrystalline cellulose (MCC; n = 16) at efficacious supplement doses of 25 g/day (females) or 35 g/day (males) in adults with excess weight. Self-reported flatulence, bloating, and stomach aches were evaluated weekly. Bacterial taxa involved in AX fermentation were identified by bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging. Associations between GI symptoms, fecal microbiota features, and diet history were systematically investigated. AX supplementation increased symptoms during the first three weeks relative to MCC (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney tests), but subjects ‘adapted’ with symptoms reverting to baseline levels toward the end of treatment. Symptom adaptations were individualized and correlated with the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium longum at baseline (r s = 0.74, p = 0.002), within the bacterial community that utilized AX (r s = 0.69, p = 0.006), and AX-induced shifts in acetate (r s = 0.54, p = 0.039). Lower baseline consumption of animal-based foods and higher whole grains associated with less severity and better adaptation. These findings suggest that humans do ‘adapt’ to tolerate efficacious fiber doses, and this process is linked to their microbiome and dietary factors known to interact with gut microbes, providing a basis for the development of strategies for improved tolerance of dietary fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2363021
Number of pages18
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 106022 Microbiology
  • 106026 Ecosystem research


  • Adults
  • arabinoxylan
  • Bifidobacterium
  • dietary fiber
  • gastrointestinal symptoms
  • gut microbiome
  • short-chain fatty acids
  • tolerance

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