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Food phytochemicals are increasingly considered to play a key role in the cardiometabolic health effects of plant foods. However, the heterogeneity in responsiveness to their intake frequently observed in clinical trials can hinder the beneficial effects of these compounds in specific subpopulations. A range of factors, including genetic background, gut microbiota, age, sex and health status, could be involved in these interindividual variations; however, the current knowledge is limited and fragmented. The European network, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)-POSITIVe, has analysed, in a systematic way, existing knowledge with the aim to better understand the factors responsible for the interindividual variation in response to the consumption of the major families of plant food bioactives, regarding their bioavailability and bioefficacy. If differences in bioavailability, likely reflecting differences in human subjects’ genetics or in gut microbiota composition and functionality, are believed to underpin much of the interindividual variability, the key molecular determinants or microbial species remain to be identified. The systematic analysis of published studies conducted to assess the interindividual variation in biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk suggested some factors (such as adiposity and health status) as involved in between-subject variation. However, the contribution of these factors is not demonstrated consistently across the different compounds and biological outcomes and would deserve further investigations. The findings of the network clearly highlight that the human subjects’ intervention studies published so far are not adequate to investigate the relevant determinants of the absorption/metabolism and biological responsiveness. They also emphasise the need for a new generation of intervention studies designed to capture this interindividual variation.
In vitro experiments have shown that isolated human gut bacteria are able to metabolise PUFA into conjugated PUFA like conjugated linoleic acids (CLA). The hypothesis of the present paper was that high-fat (HF) diet feeding and supplementation with fermentable carbohydrates that have prebiotic properties modulate the in vivo production of CLA by the mouse gut microbiota. Mice were treated for 4 weeks as follows: control (CT) groups were fed a standard diet; HF groups were fed a HF diet rich in linoleic acid (18 : 2n-6); the third groups were fed with the HF diet supplemented with either inulin-type fructans (HF-ITF) or arabinoxylans (HF-Ax). HF diet feeding increased rumenic acid (cis-9, trans-11-18 : 2 CLA) content both in the caecal and liver tissues compared with the CT groups. ITF supplementation had no major effect compared with the HF diet whereas Ax supplementation increased further rumenic acid (cis-9, trans-11-18 : 2 CLA) in the caecal tissue. These differences between both prebiotics may be linked to the high fat-binding capacity of Ax that provides more substrates for bacterial metabolism and to differential modulation of the gut microbiota (specific increase in Roseburia spp. in HF-Ax v. HF). In conclusion, these experiments supply the proof of concept that the mouse gut microbiota produces CLA in vivo, with consequences on the level of CLA in the caecal and liver tissues. We postulate that the CLA-producing bacteria could be a mediator to consider in the metabolic effects of both HF diet feeding and prebiotic supplementation.
Hop-derived food supplements and beers contain the prenylflavonoids xanthohumol (X), isoxanthohumol (IX) and the very potent phyto-oestrogen (plant-derived oestrogen mimic) 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN). The weakly oestrogenic IX can be bioactivated via O-demethylation to 8-PN. Since IX usually predominates over 8-PN, human subjects may be exposed to increased doses of 8-PN. A dietary intervention trial with fifty healthy post-menopausal Caucasian women was undertaken. After a 4 d washout period, participants delivered faeces, blank urine and breath samples. Next, they started a 5 d treatment with hop-based supplements that were administered three times per d and on the last day, a 24 h urine sample was collected. A semi-quantitative FFQ was used to estimate fat, fibre, alcohol, caffeine and theobromine intakes. The recoveries of IX, 8-PN and X in the urine were low and considerable inter-individual variations were observed. A five-fold increase in the dosage of IX without change in 8-PN concentration resulted in a significant lower IX recovery and a higher 8-PN recovery. Classification of the subjects into poor (60 %), moderate (25 %) and strong (15 %) 8-PN producers based on either urinary excretion or microbial bioactivation capacity gave comparable results. Recent antibiotic therapy seemed to affect the 8-PN production negatively. A positive trend between methane excretion and 8-PN production was observed. Strong 8-PN producers consumed less alcohol and had a higher theobromine intake. From this study we conclude that in vivoO-demethylation of IX increases the oestrogenic potency of hop-derived products.
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