Structure of protein emulsion in food impacts intestinal microbiota, caecal luminal content composition and distal intestine characteristics in rats

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Few studies have evaluated in vivo the impact of food structure on digestion, absorption of nutrients and on microbiota composition and metabolism. In this study we evaluated in rat the impact of two structures of protein emulsion in food on gut microbiota, luminal content composition, and intestinal characteristics.

Methods and results

Rats received for 3 weeks two diets of identical composition but based on lipid-protein matrices of liquid fine (LFE) or gelled coarse (GCE) emulsion. LFE diet led to higher abundance, when compared to the GCE, of Lactobacillaceae (Lactobacillus reuteri) in the ileum, higher β-diversity of the caecum mucus-associated bacteria. In contrast, the LFE diet led to a decrease in Akkermansia municiphila in the caecum. This coincided with heavier caecum content and higher amount of isovalerate in the LFE group. LFE diet induced an increased expression of (i) amino acid transporters in the ileum (ii) glucagon in the caecum, together with an elevated level of GLP-1 in portal plasma. However, these intestinal effects were not associated with modification of food intake or body weight gain.


Overall, the structure of protein emulsion in food affects the expression of amino acid transporters and gut peptides concomitantly with modification of the gut microbiota composition and activity. Our data suggest that these effects of the emulsion structure are the result of a modification of protein digestion properties.

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