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Dietary non-digestible carbohydrates promote L-cell differentiation in the proximal colon of rats

  • Patrice D. Cani (a1), Sophie Hoste (a1), Yves Guiot (a2) and Nathalie M. Delzenne (a1)


One of the challenges in type 2 diabetes treatment is to ensure pancreas functionality with gut peptides such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). We have recently shown that the endogenous GLP-1 production is promoted by dietary non-digestible carbohydrates (oligofructose), the higher GLP-1 secretion could participate in the control of obesity and associated disorders. This experimental study was designed to highlight the mechanisms of endogenous increase of GLP-1 following non-digestible carbohydrate feeding. Male Wistar rats were fed a standard diet (70·4 g/100 g total carbohydrates; controls) or the same diet supplemented with oligofructose (10 g/100 g diet) for 4 weeks. GLP-1-producing L-cells of the colon were quantified by immunohistochemistry. GLP-1 was quantified by ELISA, and proglucagon, neurogenin 3 and NeuroD mRNA were measured in the colon by quantitative RT–PCR. The number of GLP-1-expressing cells was doubled in the proximal colon of oligofructose-treated rats, a phenomenon correlated with the increase in proglucagon mRNA and peptide content in the tissue. Moreover, oligofructose increased the number of enteroendocrine L-cells in the proximal colon by a mechanism involving up-regulation of two differentiation factors: neurogenin 3 and NeuroD. It is the first demonstration that nutrients fermented in the gut may promote L-cell differentiation in the proximal colon, a phenomenon contributing to a higher endogenous GLP-1 production. These results suggest a new mechanism by which dietary fibres may lower food intake and fat mass development.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Prof. Nathalie M. Delzenne, fax +32 2 764 73 59, email


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