Prebiotic combination may counter adverse symptoms of constipation

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Constipation is a common functional disorders. According to the US NIH, about 16% of adults have symptoms of constipation, and the number increases to about 33% in people over 60. Image © Getty Images / Syldavia
Constipation is a common functional disorders. According to the US NIH, about 16% of adults have symptoms of constipation, and the number increases to about 33% in people over 60. Image © Getty Images / Syldavia

Related tags Prebiotics Constipation

A combination of inulin, lactitol, and aloe vera gel may improve the composition of the gut microbiota in people with mild constipation and help reduce adverse symptoms, says a study from Korea.

Scientists from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul and Unigen, Inc. report that four weeks of supplementation with Unigen’s UG1601 prebiotic product led to increases in butyrate-producing bacteria and decreases in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) concentrations, an endotoxin, compared to placebo.

Unigen partly funded the study.

“The materials used in this study are known laxatives, about which only few controlled clinical studies are available, but their effects on microbial composition have not been investigated,” ​wrote the researchers in the World Journal of Gastroenterology​.

“This clinical trial showed that 4 wk of intervention with the prebiotic UG1601 in patients with mild constipation resulted in decreased serum concentrations of the bacterial endotoxin LPS and its receptor CD 14. UG1601 supplementation induced an increase in the abundance of the fecal butyrate-producing bacterium R. hominis and improved stool frequency.”

However, while stool frequency did increase in the prebiotic group, it also increased in the placebo group and there were no significant differences between the groups after four weeks.


Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Glenn Gibson, Professor of Food Microbiology and head of Food Microbial Sciences at the University of Reading in the UK, and a pioneer and world-renowned expert in prebiotics, told NutraIngredients-USA: “This is a well conducted human study into the effects of a carbohydrate mixture that contain the prebiotic inulin.

“The effects upon improving transit time of this prebiotic are known, so that is not a particularly novel observation here. Similarly, influences upon endotoxaemia have been previously reported. However, these effects have been correlated with fecal microbial changes and those of metabolic end products. As such the study is of interest in that it shows potential health improvements along with prebiotic effects ​per se.”

Prebiotics are defined as: “A substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”. (Gibson et al. in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, ​2017, Vol. 14, Pages 491–502)

Study details

The researchers recruited 40 people with mild constipation to participate in their randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled and parallel study design. The subjects were randomly assigned to receive 13 grams per day of either UG1601 (composed of 61.5 % inulin, 34.6% lactitol, and 3.9% aloe vera gel) or a maltodextrin placebo for four weeks.

Results showed that the prebiotic group experienced significant decreases in serum cluster of differentiation (CD) 14 and LPS concentrations.

While overall fecal short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations did not differ between groups, the researchers report significant increases in the relative abundance of Roseburia hominis​, which they describe as a major butyrate producer, in the UG1601 group.

In addition, the abundance of Firmicutes​ was found to decease in prebiotic group responders, and this was inversely correlated with several fecal SCFAs.

“Thus, alterations in gut microbiota composition following prebiotic UG1601 supplementation might contribute to alleviation of symptom scores and endotoxemia,” ​they concluded.

Source: World Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 25, Number 40, Pages 6129-6144, doi: 10.3748/wjg.v25.i40.6129
“Prebiotic UG1601 mitigates constipation-related events in association with gut microbiota: A randomized placebo-controlled intervention study”
Authors: J. R. Chu et al.