Effect of the prebiotic fiber inulin on cholesterol metabolism in wildtype mice

Rima H. Mistry, Fangjie Gu, Henk A. Schols, Henkjan J. Verkade, Uwe J.F. Tietge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Dietary non-digestible carbohydrates are perceived to improve health via gut microbiota-dependent generation of products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). In addition, SCFA are also precursors for lipid and cholesterol synthesis potentially resulting in unwanted effects on lipid metabolism. Inulin is a widely used model prebiotic dietary fiber. Inconsistent reports on the effects of inulin on cholesterol homeostasis have emerged in humans and preclinical models. To clarify this issue, the present study aimed to provide an in-depth characterization of the effects of short-chain (sc)- and long-chain (lc)- inulin on cholesterol synthesis, absorption and elimination in mice. Feeding wildtype C57BL/6J mice diets supplemented with 10% (w/w) of either sc- or lc-inulin for two weeks resulted in approximately 2.5-fold higher fecal SCFA levels (P < 0.01) compared with controls, but had no significant effects on plasma and liver lipids. Subtle shifts in fecal and plasma bile acid species were detected with beta-muricholic acid increasing significantly in plasma of the inulin fed groups (1.7-fold, P < 0.05). However, neither sc-inulin nor lc-inulin affected intestinal cholesterol absorption, mass fecal cholesterol excretion or trans-intestinal cholesterol excretion (TICE). Combined, our data demonstrate that sc- and lc-inulin have no adverse effects on cholesterol metabolism in mice despite increased generation of SCFA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13238
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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