Depolymerized RG-I-enriched pectin from citrus segment membranes modulates gut microbiota, increases SCFA production, and promotes the growth of Bifidobacterium spp., Lactobacillus spp. and Faecalibaculum spp.†
Rhamnogalacturonan-I (RG-I)-enriched pectin (WRP) was recovered from citrus processing water by sequential acid and alkaline treatments in a previous study. RG-I-enriched pectin was proposed as a potential supplement for functional food and pharmaceutical development. However, previous studies illustrated that favorable modulations of gut microbiota by RG-I-enriched pectin were based on in vitro changes in the overall microbial structure and the question of whether there is a structure-dependent modulation of gut microbiota remains largely enigmatic. In the present study, modulations of gut microbiota by commercial pectin (CP), WRP and its depolymerized fraction (DWRP) with different RG-I contents and Mw were compared in vivo. It was revealed by 16s rRNA high-throughput sequencing that WRP and DWRP mainly composed of RG-I modulated the gut microbiota in a positive way. DWRP significantly increased the abundance of prebiotic such as Bifidobacterium spp., Lactobacillus spp., while WRP increased SCFAs producers including species in Ruminococcaceae family. By maintaining a more balanced gut microbiota composition and enriching some SCFA producers, dietary WRP and DWRP also elevated the SCFA content in the colon. Collectively, our findings offer new insights into the structure–activity correlation of citrus pectin and provide impetus towards the development of RG-I-enriched pectin with small molecular weight for specific use in health-promoting prebiotic ingredients and therapeutic products.