Plant polyphenols alter a pathway of energy metabolism by inhibiting fecal Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes in vitro
The function of plant polyphenols in controlling body weight has been in focus for a long time. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of plant polyphenols on fecal microbiota utilizing oligosaccharides. Three plant polyphenols, quercetin, catechin and puerarin, were added into liquid media for fermenting for 24 h. The pH values, OD600 of the cultures and the content of carbohydrates at 0, 6, 10, 14, 18 and 24 h were determined. The abundance of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes in each culture was quantified with qPCR after 10 h of fermentation, and the bacterial composition was analyzed using the software Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology. The results revealed that all three plant polyphenols could significantly inhibit the growth of Bacteroidetes (P < 0.01) and Firmicutes (P < 0.01) while at the same time down-regulate the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes (P < 0.01). But the fecal bacteria could maintain the ability to hydrolyze fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) in vitro. Among the tested polyphenols, catechin presented the most intense inhibitory activity towards the growth of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, and quercetin was the second. Only the samples with catechin had a significantly lower energy metabolism (P < 0.05). In conclusion, plant polyphenols can change the pathway of degrading FOS or even energy metabolism in vivo by altering gut microbiota composition. It may be one of the mechanisms in which plant polyphenols can lead to body weight loss. It's the first report to study in vitro gastrointestinal microbiota fermenting dietary fibers under the intervention of plant polyphenols.