British Journal of Nutrition

Mineral Metabolism

Effects of galacto-oligosaccharide and bacterial status on mucin distribution in mucosa and on large intestine fermentation in rats

J. C. Meslina1, C. Andrieuxa2, T. Sakataa3, P. Beaumatina1, M. Bensaadaa2, F. Popota2, O. Szylita2 and M. Duranda1

a1 Laboratoire de Nutrition et Sécurité Alimentaire, Centre de Recherches de Jouy, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas Cédex, France

a2 Laboratoire ď Ecologie et de Physiologie du Systéme Digestif INRA, Centre de Recherches de Jouy, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas Cédex, France

a3 Ishinomaki Senshu University, Minamizakai Shinmito 1, Ishinomaki 986, Japan


The purpose of the present paper was to study the effects of a dietary undigestible carbohydrate and intestinal microflora on mucin distribution (neutral, acid, sulphonated), glycolytic activities: η-D-galactosidase (EC, N-acetyl-η-D-galactosaminidase ( Ec, N-acetyl-η-D-gluco-saminidase (EC, β-L-fucosidase (EC and bacterial metabolism (gas production, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and lactic acid caecal concentration) in germ-free (GF), conventional (CV) and heteroxenic (HE) rats (GF rats associated with a human flora). Rats were fed on either a control diet or a diet containing 40 g trans-galactosylated oligosaccharide (TOS)/kg. In GF rats fed on the control diet caecal pH was almost neutral and glycolytic activities negligible. The number of mucus- containing cells increased from the caecum to the colon for the three types of mucin. TOS had no effect in the caecum but it modified mucin cell repartition in the colon. In CV and HE rats fed on the control diet caecal pH was similar (6.8), but caecal SCFA and lactic acid concentrations (μmol/g) and gas production (m1/24 h) were higher in CV (70, 5.9 and 2.3 respectively) than in HE rats (32, 4.6 and 0.4 respectively). In CV, as in HE rats, acid-mucin-containing cells increased from the caecum to the colon and glycolytic activities were similar. TOS reduced acid-mucin-containing cells in the caecum of CV rats by twofold but had no effect in either the caecum or the colon of HE rats. TOS strongly increased η- galactosidase activity and slightly modified the other glycolytic activities. Its effect on bacterial metabolites depended on bacterial status. However, comparison between CV and HE rats showed no evident relationship between the number of mucus-containing cells and measured bacterial metabolites. Differences between CV and HE rats might be due to bacterial microflora specificity. TOS had an intrinsic effect on mucus cell distribution in the colon of GF rats. In CV and HE rats the presence of the flora abolished this effect.

(Received November 04 1991)

(Accepted June 04 1992)