Fermentation of Chicory Fructo-Oligosaccharides and Native Inulin by Infant Fecal Microbiota Attenuates Pro-Inflammatory Responses in Immature Dendritic Cells in an Infant-Age-Dependent and Fructan-Specific Way

Madelon J Logtenberg, Renate Akkerman*, Ran An, Gerben D A Hermes, Bart J de Haan, Marijke M Faas, Erwin G Zoetendal, Henk A Schols, Paul de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Scope Inulin-type fructans are commonly applied in infant formula to support development of gut microbiota and immunity. These inulin-type fructans are considered to be fermented by gut microbiota, but it is unknown how fermentation impacts immune modulating capacity and whether the process of fermentation is dependent on the infant's age.

Methods and results The in vitro fermentation of chicory fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and native inulin are investigated using pooled fecal inocula of two- and eight-week-old infants. Both inocula primarily utilize the trisaccharides in FOS, while they almost completely utilize native inulin with degree of polymerization (DP) 3-8. Fecal microbiota of eight-week-old infants degrades longer chains of native inulin up to DP 16. This correlates with a higher abundance of Bifidobacterium and higher production of acetate and lactate after 26 h of fermentation. Fermented FOS and native inulin attenuate pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by immature dendritic cells (DCs), but profiles and magnitude of attenuation are stronger with native inulin than with FOS.

Conclusion The findings demonstrate that fermentation of FOS and native inulin is dependent on the infant's age and fructan structure. Fermentation enhances attenuating effects of pro-inflammatory responses in DCs, which depend mainly on microbial metabolites formed during fermentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000068
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number13
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2-Jun-2020


  • dendritic cells
  • in vitro fermentation
  • infant formula
  • inulin-type fructans
  • microbiota
  • LIFE

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