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Aims: Comparison of in vitro fermentation properties of commercial prebiotic oligosaccharides.

Methods and Results: Populations of predominant gut bacterial groups were monitored over 24 h of batch culture through fluorescent in-situ hybridization. Short-chain fatty acid and gas production were also measured. All prebiotics increased the numbers of bifidobacteria and most decreased clostridia. Xylo-oligosaccharides and lactulose produced the highest increases in numbers of bifidobacteria whilst fructo-oligosaccharides produced the highest populations of lactobacilli. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) resulted in the largest decreases in numbers of clostridia. Short-chain fatty acid generation was highest on lactulose and GOS. Gas production was lowest on isomalto-oligosaccharides and highest on inulin.

Conclusions: The oligosaccharides differed in their fermentation characteristics. Isomalto-oligosaccharides and GOS were effective at increasing numbers of bifidobacteria and lactate whilst generating the least gas.

Significance and Impact of the Study: The study provides comparative data on the properties of commercial prebiotics, allowing targeting of dietary intervention for particular applications and blending of oligosaccharides to enhance overall functionality.