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The capacity of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides to stimulate faecal bifidobacteria: a dose-response relationship study in healthy humans

Yoram Bouhnik1*, Laurent Raskine2, Guy Simoneau3, Damien Paineau4 and Francis Bornet4

Author affiliations

1 Hépato-Gastroentérologie et Assistance Nutritive, Hôpital Lariboisière, 2 rue Ambroise Paré, 75475 Paris Cedex 10, France

2 Bactériologie – Virologie, Hôpital Lariboisière, 2 rue Ambroise Paré, 75475 Paris Cedex 10, France

3 Unité de Recherche Thérapeutique, Hôpital Lariboisière, 2 rue Ambroise Paré, 75475 Paris Cedex 10, France

4 Nutri-Health SA, 3 avenue Paul Doumer, 92500 Rueil-Malmaison, France

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2006, 5:8  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-5-8

Published: 28 March 2006



Short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS) are well-known for their bifidogenicity. In a large study comprising 200 healthy volunteers, we determined the bifidogenic properties of 7 non-digestible carbohydrates administered at a dose of 10 g/d in the diet; we analysed dose-response relationships of the bifidogenic substrates at doses ranging from 2.5 to 10 g/d in comparison with a placebo. The aim of this presentation is to give more details about the dose-response effects of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS).


Forty healthy volunteers (18 males, 22 females) eating their usual diets were randomly divided into 5 groups of 8 subjects and received scFOS at a dose of 2.5, 5.0, 7.5 and 10 g/d or a placebo for 7 d. Stools were collected before (day (d) 8) and at the end (day (d) 15) of sugar consumption, and tolerance was evaluated using a daily chart.

Results (m ± SEM)

Bifidobacteria counts increase was higher in scFOS than in placebo group for all doses tested [2.5 g/d (from 9.15 ± 0.59 to 9.39 ± 0.70; P = 0.02); 5 g/d (from 10.21 ± 0.21 to 10.67 ± 0.22; P = 0.03); 7.5 g/d (from 9.28 ± 0.49 to 9.85 ± 0.35;P = 0.01); 10 g/d (from 9.00 ± 0.81 to 10.18 ± 0.60; P = 0.003)]. A significant correlation between the ingested dose of scFOS and faecal bifidobacteria counts was observed at d15 (r2 = 0.307, P < 0.001). Total anaerobes increased at the dose of 10 g/d. No significant differences were found for Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, enterobacteria or pH in any group. The frequency of digestive symptoms was not different between scFOS at any of the doses tested and placebo. Bloating was significantly more intense during scFOS ingestion at doses of 2.5 and 5 g/d, but not at doses of 7.5 and 10 g/d. Excess flatus, borborygmi and abdominal pain did not differ from the placebo at any of the doses tested.


This study showed that scFOS is bifidogenic and well tolerated at doses ranging from 2.5 to 10 g/d, and that there is a dose-response relationship in healthy volunteers.