Polyphenol-Mediated Gut Microbiota Modulation: Toward Prebiotics and Further

A recent review on the action of polyphenols in the gut, by Maria Carolina Rodríguez-Daza and her colleagues, proposes that analyses of bioactive phenolic metabolites generated from the action of bacterial PAZymes can predict and allow deciphering microbes-host crosstalk, underpinning the duplibiotic nature of dietary (poly)phenols in humans and animals.


Credits: Atlas Biomed

The genome of gut microbes encodes a collection of enzymes whose metabolic functions contribute to the bioavailability and bioactivity of unabsorbed polyphenols. Datasets from high throughput sequencing, metabolome measurements, and other omics have expanded the understanding of the different modes of actions by which polyphenols modulate the microbiome conferring health benefits to the host. Progress have been made to identify direct prebiotic effects of polyphenols; albeit up to date, these compounds are not recognized as prebiotics sensu stricto.

Interestingly, certain probiotics strains have an enzymatic repertoire, such as tannase, α-L-rhamnosidase, and phenolic acid reductase, involved in the transformation of different polyphenols into bioactive phenolic metabolites. In vivo studies have demonstrated that these polyphenol-transforming bacteria thrive when provided with phenolic substrates. However, other taxonomically distinct gut symbionts of which a phenolic-metabolizing activity has not been demonstrated are still significantly promoted by polyphenols. This is the case of Akkermansia muciniphila, a so-called antiobesity bacterium, which responds positively to polyphenols and may be partially responsible for the health benefits formerly attributed to these molecules.

In summary, polyphenols broad antimicrobial action free ecological niches occupied by competing bacteria, thereby allowing the bloom of beneficial gut bacteria. This review explores the capacity of polyphenols to promote beneficial gut bacteria through their direct and collaborative bacterial utilization and their inhibitory action on potential pathogenic species. The scientists propose the term duplibiotic, to describe an unabsorbed substrate modulating the gut microbiota by both antimicrobial and prebiotic modes of action. Polyphenol duplibiotic effect could participate in blunting metabolic disturbance and gut dysbiosis, positioning these compounds as dietary strategies with therapeutic potential.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.689456

Authors: Maria Carolina Rodríguez-Daza & al.

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