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An approach for evaluating the effects of dietary fiber polysaccharides on the human gut microbiome and plasma proteome


Increases in snack consumption associated with Westernized lifestyles provide an opportunity to introduce nutritious foods into poor diets. We describe two 10-wk-long open label, single group assignment human studies that measured the effects of two snack prototypes containing fiber preparations from two sustainable and scalable sources; the byproducts remaining after isolation of protein from the endosperm of peas and the vesicular pulp remaining after processing oranges for the manufacture of juices. The normal diets of study participants were supplemented with either a pea- or orange fiber-containing snack. We focused our analysis on quantifying the abundances of genes encoding carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) (glycoside hydrolases and polysaccharide lyases) in the fecal microbiome, mass spectrometric measurements of glycan structures (glycosidic linkages) in feces, plus aptamer-based assessment of levels of 1,300 plasma proteins reflecting a broad range of physiological functions. Computational methods for feature selection identified treatment-discriminatory changes in CAZyme genes that correlated with alterations in levels of fiber-associated glycosidic linkages; these changes in turn correlated with levels of plasma proteins representing diverse biological functions, including transforming growth factor type β/bone morphogenetic protein-mediated fibrosis, vascular endothelial growth factor-related angiogenesis, P38/MAPK-associated immune cell signaling, and obesity-associated hormonal regulators. The approach used represents a way to connect changes in consumer microbiomes produced by specific fiber types with host responses in the context of varying background diets.

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