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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #395038

Research Project: In Vitro Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem: Effects of Diet

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Title: Analysis of the ability of capsaicin to modulate the human gut microbiota in vitro

item Mahalak, Karley
item BOBOKALONOV, JAMSHED - Tajikistan Academy Of Sciences
item Firrman, Jenni
item WILLIAMS, RUSSEL - Danforth Plant Science Center
item EVANS, BRADLEY - Danforth Plant Science Center
item FANELLI, BRIAN - Cosmosid
item SOARES, JASON - Us Army Natick Center
item Liu, Linshu
item KOBORI, MASUKO - Food Research Institute - Japan

Submitted to: Nutrients
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/11/2022
Publication Date: 3/18/2022
Citation: Mahalak, K.K., Bobokalonov, J., Firrman, J., Williams, R., Evans, B., Fanelli, B., Soares, J., Liu, L.S., Kobori, M. 2022. Analysis of the ability of capsaicin to modulate the human gut microbiota in vitro. Nutrients.

Interpretive Summary: Health benefits linked to capsaicin (CAP), the chemical responsible for spiciness in the chili pepper, include lower cholesterol, a decreased rate of obesity, and reduced intestinal inflammation. These health benefits are thought to be related to the bacterial communities within the colon, called the gut microbiota. However, how CAP affects the gut microbiota was unclear. This study used a simplified method to focus on the bacterial response to CAP and whether CAP would result in changes to the metabolites released by the bacteria. Our results demonstrated that CAP caused shifts in the bacterial population, as well as the metabolites of that bacterial community. These shifts, specific to the individual, are the reason for the health benefits provided by CAP.

Technical Abstract: Previous studies on capsaicin, the bioactive compound in chili peppers, have shown that it may have a beneficial effect in vivo when part of a regular diet. These positive health benefits, including anti-inflammatory potential and protective effects against obesity, are often attributed to the gut microbial community response to capsaicin. However, there is no consensus on the mechanism behind the protective effect of capsaicin. In this study, we used an in vitro model of the human gut microbiota to determine how regular consumption of capsaicin impacts the gut microbiota. Using a combination of NextGen sequencing and metabolomics we found that regular capsaicin treatment changed the structure of the gut microbial community by increasing diversity and certain SCFA abundances, particularly butanoic acid. These changes are responsible for the health benefits associated with CAP consumption.