Nopal feeding reduces adiposity, intestinal inflammation and shifts the cecal microbiota and metabolism in high-fat fed rats.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171672
Nopal is a cactus plant widely consumed in Mexico that has been used in traditional medicine to aid in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. We previously showed that chronic consumption of dehydrated nopal ameliorated hepatic steatosis in obese (fa/fa) rats; however, description of the effects on other tissues is sparse. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of nopal cladode consumption on intestinal physiology, microbial community structure, adipose tissue, and serum biochemistry in diet-induced obese rats. Rats were fed either a normal fat (NF) diet or a HF diet containing 4% of dietary fiber from either nopal or cellulose for 6 weeks. Consumption of nopal counteracted HF-induced adiposity and adipocyte hypertrophy, and induced profound changes in intestinal physiology. Nopal consumption reduced biomarkers of intestinal inflammation (mRNA expression of IL-6) and oxidative stress (ROS), modfied gut microbiota composition, increasing microbial diversity and cecal fermentation (SCFA), and altered the serum metabolome. Interestingly, metabolomic analysis of dehydrated nopal revealed a high choline content, which appeared to generate high levels of serum betaine, that correlated negatively with hepatic triglyceride (TAG) levels. A parallel decrease in some of the taxa associated with the production of trimethylamine, suggest an increase in choline absorption and bioavailability with transformation to betaine. The latter may partially explain the previously observed effect of nopal on the development of hepatic steatosis. In conclusion, this study provides new evidence on the effects of nopal consumption on normal and HF-diet induced changes in the intestine, the liver and systemic metabolism.