Calcium supplementation modulates gut microbiota in a prebiotic manner in dietary obese mice

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Dietary calcium has been inversely associated with body fat and energy balance. The main scope of this study has been to assess the potential contribution of gut microbiota on energy regulation mediated by calcium.

Methods and results:

Gut microbiota in C57BL/6J mice receiving calcium supplementation under a high-fat (HF) diet were analysed by PCR and their relationships with host metabolic parameters were determined. Calcium conferred a prebiotic-like effect on gut microbiota, and animals presented lower plasmatic endotoxin levels, increased expression of angiopoietin-like 4 in intestine and lower hepatic lipid content, although increased expression of stress markers in adipose tissue and of inflammation in liver was also found. To determine whether slimming effects could be transferred to obese mice, a faecal microbial transplant (FMT) was carried out, showing that host bacteria grown under a HF diet could not be superseded by those from calcium-fed animals. Therefore, FMT was not able to transfer the beneficial effects of calcium.


In conclusion, calcium modulated gut microbiota in a prebiotic manner, establishing a host cross-talk and promoting a healthier metabolic profile. However, lack of effectiveness of FMT suggests the need of further appropriate dietary factors in addition to the bacteria per se.

Calcium supplementation to mice on a high-fat (HF) diet induced the growth of beneficial bacteria which was associated to a healthier metabolic profile. To test whether these effects could be transferred to obese mice, a faecal microbial transplant (FMT) using calcium animals as donors was carried out; however, no significant effects were observed. Thus, dietary calcium per se provided the adequate environment to allow specific bacterial growth and therefore conferred a prebiotic effect.

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