Diet drives quick changes in the metabolic activity and composition of human gut microbiota in a validated in vitro gut model

Marisol Aguirre, Anat Eck, Marjorie E Koenen, Paul H M Savelkoul, Andries E Budding, Koen Venema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this study was to screen how rapidly the human gut microbiota responds to diet in an in vitro model of the proximal colon (TIM-2 system). Two experimental diets were provided to the gut bacteria: a high carbohydrate and a high protein diet. The metabolic response and the composition of the microbiota were compared to a control diet simulating an average western meal. Short-chain and branched-chain fatty acids (SCFA and BCFA, respectively) production, in addition to changes in the community composition (profiling), were measured. The activity of the microbiota reflected differences between diets, exhibiting a trade-off between saccharolytic and proteolytic fermentation when compared to the control. Diversity analysis revealed a phylum-specific response depending on the diet tested. Most changes in the microbiome composition occurred during the first 24 h of the experiment. The outcome of this study elucidates the fact that human gut bacteria quickly respond to changes in diet. In addition, it confirms that variations in the concentration of carbohydrates and proteins modify the activity and composition of the microbiota, and these changes can potentially have an impact on the health of the host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-25
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015

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