Synbiotic consumption changes the metabolism and composition of the gut microbiota in older people and modifies inflammatory processes: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study
Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Volume 38, Issue 7, pages 804–816, October 2013
How to Cite
Macfarlane, S., Cleary, S., Bahrami, B., Reynolds, N. and Macfarlane, G. T. (2013), Synbiotic consumption changes the metabolism and composition of the gut microbiota in older people and modifies inflammatory processes: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 38: 804–816. doi: 10.1111/apt.12453
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 17 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 18 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 7 JUN 2013
- Government Chief Scientist Office. Grant Number: ETM 66
Ageing can result in major changes in the composition and metabolic activities of bacterial populations in the large gut and an impaired immune system.
To investigate the effects of synbiotic consumption on the colonic microbiota, immune function and health status in older people.
A randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled, 4-week crossover study was carried out, involving 43 older volunteers, using a synbiotic comprising the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum and an inulin-based prebiotic Synergy 1 (SudZucker, Mannheim, Germany). Faecal and blood samples were collected, and clinical status scored at the start, and at 2- and 4-week intervals, with a 4-week washout between each feeding period. Faecal bacteria were determined by fluorescent in situ hybridisation. Short-chain fatty acid concentrations, cytokine production, bowel habit and a range of clinical parameters were measured.
The synbiotic increased bifidobacterial numbers by 1.4 log units (P < 0.0001) and also increased members of the phyla Actinobacteria and Firmicutes (P = 0.0004, P < 0.0001). Proteobacteria were reduced by 1.0 log units (P < 0.0001). Synbiotic feeding was associated with increased butyrate production (P = 0.0399). The pro-inflammatory response was modified by the synbiotic, with significantly reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α in peripheral blood after 2 and 4 weeks of synbiotic consumption (P = 0.02, P = 0.0406). The synbiotic had no effect on bowel habit or any clinical parameters.
Short-term synbiotic use can be effective in improving the composition and metabolic activities of colonic bacterial communities and immune parameters in older people. This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01226212.