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Marion Régnier, Matthias Van Hul, Claude Knauf, and Patrice D Cani

Overweight and obesity are associated with several cardiometabolic risk factors, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, low-grade inflammation and liver diseases. The gut microbiota is a potential contributing factor regulating energy balance. However, although the scientific community acknowledges that the gut microbiota composition and its activity (e.g., production of metabolites and immune-related compounds) are different between healthy subjects and subjects with overweight/obesity, the causality remains insufficiently demonstrated. The development of low-grade inflammation and related metabolic disorders has been connected with metabolic endotoxaemia and increased gut permeability. However, the mechanisms acting on the regulation of the gut barrier and eventually cardiometabolic disorders are not fully elucidated. In this review, we debate several characteristics of the gut microbiota, gut barrier function and metabolic outcomes. We examine the role of specific dietary compounds or nutrients (e.g., prebiotics, probiotics, polyphenols, sweeteners, and a fructose-rich diet) as well as different metabolites produced by the microbiota in host metabolism, and we discuss how they control several endocrine functions and eventually have either beneficial or deleterious effects on host health.

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Patrice D Cani, Catherine A Daubioul, Brigitte Reusens, Claude Remacle, Grégory Catillon, and Nathalie M Delzenne

We have evaluated the influence of oligofructose (OFS), a fermentable dietary fibre, on glucose homeostasis, insulin production and intestinal glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in streptozotocin-treated diabetic rats.

Male Wistar rats received either i.v. streptozotocin (STZ; 40 mg/kg) or vehicle (CT); one week later, they were fed for 6 weeks with either the standard diet (STZ-CT), or with a diet containing 10% oligofructose (STZ-OFS); both diets were available ad libitum. In a second set of experiments (duration 4 weeks), a supplemental group of food-restricted rats (STZ-Res) receiving a similar intake as CT rats, was added.

OFS improved glucose tolerance and reduced food intake as compared with STZ-CT rats in both the post-prandial state and after an oral glucose tolerance test. After 6 weeks, portal and pancreatic insulin concentrations were doubled in STZ-OFS rats. Food restriction improved these parameters when compared with STZ-CT rats, but to a lesser extent than in the STZ-OFS group. We have shown that OFS treatment increased portal and colonic GLP-1(7–36) amide levels and doubled colonic proglucagon and prohormone convertase 1 mRNA levels; both OFS and food restriction lowered ileal GLP-1(7–36) amide levels as compared with levels in STZ-CT rats.

We propose that OFS, through its fermentation in the colon, promotes the expression and secretion of colonic peptides, namely GLP-1(7–36) amide, with beneficial consequences on glycaemia, insulin secretion and hyperphagia in diabetic rats.