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Do high-protein diets have the potential to reduce gut barrier function in a sex-dependent manner?

James, D., Poveda, C., Walton, G. E. ORCID:, Elmore, J. S. ORCID:, Linden, B., Gibson, J., Griffin, B. A., Robertson, M. D. and Lewis, M. C. (2024) Do high-protein diets have the potential to reduce gut barrier function in a sex-dependent manner? European Journal of Nutrition. ISSN 1436-6215

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00394-024-03407-w


Purpose Impaired gut barrier function is associated with systemic inflammation and many chronic diseases. Undigested dietary proteins are fermented in the colon by the gut microbiota which produces nitrogenous metabolites shown to reduce barrier function in vitro. With growing evidence of sex-based differences in gut microbiotas, we determined whether there were sex by dietary protein interactions which could differentially impact barrier function via microbiota modification. Methods Fermentation systems were inoculated with faeces from healthy males (n=5) and females (n=5) and supplemented with 0.9 g of non-hydrolysed proteins sourced from whey, fish, milk, soya, egg, pea, or mycoprotein. Microbial populations were quantified using fluorescence in situ hybridisation with flow cytometry. Metabolite concentrations were analysed using gas chromatography, solid phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and ELISA. Results Increased protein availability resulted in increased proteolytic Bacteroides spp (p<0.01) and Clostridium coccoides (p<0.01), along with increased phenol (p<0.01), p-cresol (p<0.01), indole (p=0.018) and ammonia (p<0.01), varying by protein type. Counts of Clostridium cluster IX (p=0.03) and concentration of p-cresol (p=0.025) increased in males, while females produced more ammonia (p=0.02), irrespective of protein type. Further, we observed significant sex-protein interactions affecting bacterial populations and metabolites (p<0.005). Conclusions Our findings suggest that protein fermentation by the gut microbiota in vitro is influenced by both protein source and the donor’s sex. Should these results be confirmed through human studies, they could have major implications for developing dietary recommendations tailored by sex to prevent chronic illnesses.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Food Microbial Sciences Research Group
ID Code:116187


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