Table of Contents
International Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 197809, 10 pages
Research Article

Factors Involved in the In Vitro Fermentability of Short Carbohydrates in Static Faecal Batch Cultures

1FrieslandCampina Research, FrieslandCampina, 7400 AB Deventer, The Netherlands
2Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, P.O. Box 226, Berkshire, Reading RG6 6AP, UK

Received 17 June 2012; Revised 13 November 2012; Accepted 13 November 2012

Academic Editor: R. J. Linhardt

Copyright © 2012 Eva Gietl et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In recent years, research has focused on the positive effects of prebiotics on intestinal health and gut microbiota. The relationship between their chemical structure and their fermentation pattern by human intestinal microbiota is still not well understood. The aim of this study was to improve understanding of this relationship and identify factors that may be used to design galactooligosaccharides that reach more distal regions than commercial prebiotics which mainly target the proximal colon. The following factors were investigated: monomer type, linkage, substitution, and degree of polymerisation. Total organic acid production from sugars by faecal bacteria was fitted to a model which allowed an estimate of the time when half of the maximal organic acid concentration was reached (T50) in static faecal batch cultures. The different factors can be grouped by their effectiveness at prolonging fermentation time as follows: substitution is most effective, with methylgalactose, -galactose-pentaacetate, D-fucose, and galactitol fermented more slowly than D-galactose. Monomers and linkage also influence fermentation time, with L rhamnose, arabinose, melezitose, and xylose being fermented significantly slower than D-glucose (), maltose, isomaltose, cellobiose, and gentiobiose showing that Glc1-6Glc and Glc1-4Glc were utilised slowest. Chain length had the smallest effect on fermentation time.