SCOPE: Next to galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), starch-derived isomalto-oligosaccharide preparation (IMO) and isomalto/malto-polysaccharides (IMMP) could potentially be used as prebiotics in infant formulas. However, it remains largely unknown how the specific molecular structures of these non-digestible carbohydrates (NDCs) impact fermentability and immune responses in infants.
METHODS AND RESULTS: In vitro fermentation of GOS, IMO and IMMP using infant fecal inoculum of 2- and 8-week-old infants showed that only GOS and IMO were fermented by infant fecal microbiota. The degradation of GOS and IMO coincided with an increase in Bifidobacterium and production of acetate and lactate, which was more pronounced with GOS. Individual isomers with an (1↔1)-linkage or di-substituted reducing terminal glucose residue were more resistant to fermentation. GOS, IMO and IMMP fermentation digesta attenuated cytokine profiles in immature dendritic cells (DCs), but the extent was dependent on the infants age and NDC structure.
CONCLUSION: The IMO preparation, containing reducing and non-reducing isomers, showed similar fermentation patterns as GOS in fecal microbiota of 2-week-old infants. Knowledge obtained on the substrate specificities of infant fecal microbiota and the subsequent regulatory effects of GOS, IMO and IMMP on DC responses might contribute to the design of tailored NDC mixtures for infants of different age groups. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.