Dietary calcium phosphate strongly impacts gut microbiome changes elicited by inulin and galacto-oligosaccharides consumption

Jori Fuhren, Markus Schwalbe, Jos Boekhorst, Christiane Rösch, Henk A. Schols, Michiel Kleerebezem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are widely recognized prebiotics that profoundly affect the intestinal microbiota, including stimulation of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and are reported to elicit several health benefits. The combination of dietary FOS and inulin with calcium phosphate was reported to stimulate commensal Lactobacillus populations and protect the host against pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae, but little is known about the effects of GOS in diets with a different level of calcium phosphate. Methods: We investigated the microbiome changes elicited by dietary supplementation with GOS or inulin using diets with high (100 mmol/kg) and low (30 mmol/kg) calcium phosphate levels in adult Wistar rats. Rats were acclimatized to the respective experimental diets for 14 days, after which fecal material was collected, DNA was extracted from fecal material, and the V3‑V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene was amplified with PCR, followed by microbial composition analysis. In tandem, the organic acid profiles of the fecal material were analyzed. Results: Feeding rats non-supplemented (no prebiotic-added) diets revealed that diets rich in calcium phosphate favored members of the Firmicutes and increased fecal lactic, succinic, acetic, propionic, and butyric acid levels. In contrast, relatively low dietary calcium phosphate levels promoted the abundance of mucin degrading genera like Akkermansia and Bacteroides, and resulted in increased fecal propionic acid levels and modest increases in lactic and butyric acid levels. Irrespective of the calcium phosphate levels, supplementation with GOS or inulin strongly stimulated Bifidobacterium, while only high calcium phosphate diets increased the endogenous Faecalibaculum populations. Conclusions: Despite the prebiotic’s substantial difference in chemical structure, sugar composition, oligomer size, and the microbial degradation pathway involved in their utilization, inulin and GOS modulated the gut microbiota very similarly, in a manner that strongly depended on the dietary calcium phosphate level. Therefore, our study implies that the collection of detailed diet information including micronutrient balance is necessary to correctly assess diet-driven microbiota analysis. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number218
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Calcium phosphate
  • Diet
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Prebiotics
  • Short chain fatty acids
  • PRJEB43382
  • ERP127341


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