An investigation into the properties of non-digestible carbohydrates that selectively promote colonic propionate production

Harris, Hannah Charlotte (2016) An investigation into the properties of non-digestible carbohydrates that selectively promote colonic propionate production. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Short chain fatty acids (SCFA), including propionate, are produced by the bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates in the colon. Propionate has many potential roles in health, including inhibiting cholesterol synthesis, de novo lipogenesis and increasing satiety. The profile of SCFA produced is determined by both the substrate available and the bacteria present and may be influenced by environmental conditions within the lumen of the colon.

Whilst it may be beneficial to increase colonic propionate production, dietary strategies to achieve this are unproven. Adding propionate to food leads to poorer organoleptic properties, and oral propionate is absorbed in the small intestine. The optimum way to selectively increase colonic propionate would be to select fermentable carbohydrates that selectively promote propionate production. To date, few studies have undertaken a systematic assessment of the factors leading to increased colonic propionate production making the selection of propiogenic carbohydrates challenging.

The aim of this thesis was to identify the best carbohydrates for selectively increasing propionate production, and to explore the factors which control propionate production. This work started with a systematic review of the literature for evidence of candidate carbohydrates, which led to a screen of ‘propiogenic’ substrates using in vitro batch fermentations and mechanistic analysis of the impact of pH, bond linkage and orientation using a range of sugars, polysaccharides and fibre sources.

A new unit for SCFA production was developed to allow comparison of results from in vitro studies encompassing a range different methodologies found in the literature. The systematic review found that rhamnose yielded the highest rate and proportion of propionate production whereas, for polysaccharides, β-glucan ranked highest for rate and guar gum ranked highest for molar production, but this was not replicated across all studies. Thus, no single NDC was established as highly propiogenic. Some substrates appeared more propiogenic than others and when these were screened in vitro. Laminarin, and other β-glucans ranked highest for propionate production. Legume fibre and mycoprotein fibre were also propiogenic. A full complement of glucose disaccharides were tested to examine the role glycosidic bond orientation and position on propionate production. Of the glucose disaccharides tested, β(1-4) bonding was associated with increased proportion of propionate and α(1-1) and β(1-4) increased the rate and proportion of butyrate production.

In conclusion, it appears that for fibre to affect satiety, high intakes of fibre are needed, and which a major mechanism is thought to occur via propionate. Within this thesis it was identified that rather than selecting specific fibres, increasing overall intakes of highly fermentable carbohydrates is as effective at increasing propionate production. Selecting carbohydrates with beta-bonding, particularly laminarin and other β(1-4) fermentable carbohydrates leads to marginal increases in propionate production. Compared with targeted delivery of propionate to the colon, fermentable carbohydrates examined in this thesis have lesser and variable effects on propionate production. A more complete understanding of the impact of bond configurations in polysaccharides, rather than disaccharides, may help selection or design of dietary carbohydrates which selectively promote colonic propionate production substrates for inclusion in functional foods. Overall this study has concluded that few substrates are selectively propiogenic and the evidence suggests that similar changes in propionate production may be achieved by modest changes in dietary fibre intake

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Propionate, short chain fatty acids, fibre, carbohydrate, fermentation.
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Funder's Name: BBSRC
Supervisor's Name: Morrison, Dr. Douglas and Edwards, Prof. Christine
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Miss Hannah Charlotte Harris
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7623
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2016 12:01
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2019 08:41

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