Galacto-oligosaccharides supplementation in prefrail older and healthy adults increased faecal bifidobacteria, but did not impact immune function and oxidative stress

E. Wilms*, R. An, A. Smolinska, Y. Stevens, A.R. Weseler, M. Elizalde, M.J. Drittij, A. Ioannou, F.J. van Schooten, H. Smidt, A.A.M. Masclee, E.G. Zoetendal, D.M.A.E. Jonkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background & aims: Ageing is associated with an increased risk of frailty, intestinal microbiota perturbations, immunosenescence and oxidative stress. Prebiotics such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) may ameliorate these ageing-related alterations. We aimed to compare the faecal microbiota composition, metabolite production, immune and oxidative stress markers in prefrail elderly and younger adults, and investigate the effects of GOS supplementation in both groups. Methods: In a randomised controlled cross-over study, 20 prefrail elderly and 24 healthy adults received 21.6 g/day BiotisTM GOS (containing 15.0 g/day GOS) or placebo. Faecal 16S rRNA gene-based microbiota and short-chain fatty acids were analysed at 0,1 and 4 weeks of intervention.Volatile organic compounds were analysed in breath, and stimulated cytokine production, CRP, malondialdehyde, trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and uric acid (UA) in blood at 0 and 4 weeks. Results: Principle coordinate analysis showed differences in microbial composition between elderly and adults (P<0.05), with elderly having lower bifidobacteria (P<0.033) at baseline. In both groups, GOS affected microbiota composition (P<0.05), accompanied by increases in bifidobacteria (P<0.001) and decreased microbial diversity (P 0.023). Faecal and breath metabolites, immune and oxidative stress markers neither differed between groups (P 0.001), but not different between interventions (P 0.455). Conclusions: Elderly showed lower faecal bifidobacterial (relative) abundance than adults, which increased after GOS intake in both groups. Faecal and breath metabolites, parameters of immune function and oxidative stress were not different at baseline, and not impacted by GOS supplementation. with study id number: NCT03077529. 0 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3019-3031
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Microbiome
  • Nutrition
  • Probiotics
  • prebiotics
  • Immunology
  • AGE


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