Specific dietary fibers prevent heavy metal disruption of the human gut microbiota in vitro

Yony Román-Ochoa, Thaisa M. Cantu-Jungles, Grethel Teresa Choque Delgado, Nuseybe Bulut, Teresa R. Tejada, Harry R. Yucra, Antonio E. Duran, Bruce R. Hamaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heavy metal exposure is a growing concern due to its adverse effects on human health, including the disruption of gut microbiota composition and function. Dietary fibers have been shown to positively impact the gut microbiota and could mitigate some of the heavy metal negative effects. This study aimed to investigate the effects of different heavy metals (As, Cd and Hg in different concentrations) on gut microbiota in the presence and absence of different dietary fibers that included fructooligosaccharides, pectin, resistant starch, and wheat bran. We observed that whereas heavy metals impaired fiber fermentation outcomes for some fiber types, the presence of fibers generally protected gut microbial communities from heavy metal-induced changes, especially for As and Cd. Notably, the protective effects varied depending on fiber types, and heavy metal type and concentration and were overall stronger for wheat bran and pectin than other fiber types. Our findings suggest that dietary fibers play a role in mitigating the adverse effects of heavy metal exposure on gut microbiota health and may have implications for the development of dietary interventions to reduce dysbiosis associated with heavy metal exposure. Moreover, fiber-type specific outcomes highlight the importance of evidence-based selection of prebiotic dietary fibers to mitigate heavy metal toxicity to the gut microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113858
JournalFood Research International
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • In vitro fecal fermentation
  • Mercury
  • Pectin
  • Prebiotic
  • Short chain fatty acid
  • Wheat bran


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