Presence of digestible starch impacts in vitro fermentation of resistant starch

Cynthia E. Klostermann, Martha F. Endika, Dimitrios Kouzounis, Piet L. Buwalda, Paul de Vos, Erwin G. Zoetendal, Johannes H. Bitter, Henk A. Schols*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Starch is an important energy source for humans. Starch escaping digestion in the small intestine will transit to the colon to be fermented by gut microbes. Many gut microbes express α-amylases that can degrade soluble starch, but only a few are able to degrade intrinsic resistant starch (RS), which is insoluble and highly resistant to digestion (≥80% RS). We studied the in vitro fermentability of eight retrograded starches (RS-3 preparations) differing in rapidly digestible starch content (≥70%, 35-50%, ≤15%) by a pooled adult faecal inoculum and found that fermentability depends on the digestible starch fraction. Digestible starch was readily fermented yielding acetate and lactate, whereas resistant starch was fermented much slower generating acetate and butyrate. Primarily Bifidobacterium increased in relative abundance upon digestible starch fermentation, whereas resistant starch fermentation also increased relative abundance of Ruminococcus and Lachnospiraceae. The presence of small fractions of total digestible starch (±25%) within RS-3 preparations influenced the fermentation rate and microbiota composition, after which the resistant starch fraction was hardly fermented. By short-chain fatty acid quantification, we observed that six individual faecal inocula obtained from infants and adults were able to ferment digestible starch, whereas only one adult faecal inoculum was fermenting intrinsic RS-3. This suggests that, in contrast to digestible starch, intrinsic RS-3 is only fermentable when specific microbes are present. Our data illustrates that awareness is required for the presence of digestible starch during in vitro fermentation of resistant starch, since such digestible fraction might influence and overrule the evalution of the prebiotic potential of resistant starches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-235
Number of pages13
JournalFood and Function
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2024


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