Skip to main content Accessibility help

Diets high in resistant starch and arabinoxylan modulate digestion processes and SCFA pool size in the large intestine and faecal microbial composition in pigs

  • Tina S. Nielsen (a1), Helle N. Lærke (a1), Peter K. Theil (a1), Jens F. Sørensen (a2), Markku Saarinen (a3), Sofia Forssten (a3) and Knud E. Bach Knudsen (a1)...


The effects of a high level of dietary fibre (DF) either as arabinoxylan (AX) or resistant starch (RS) on digestion processes, SCFA concentration and pool size in various intestinal segments and on the microbial composition in the faeces were studied in a model experiment with pigs. A total of thirty female pigs (body weight 63·1 (sem 4·4) kg) were fed a low-DF, high-fat Western-style control diet (WSD), an AX-rich diet (AXD) or a RS-rich diet (RSD) for 3 weeks. Diet significantly affected the digestibility of DM, protein, fat, NSP and NSP components, and the arabinose:xylose ratio, as well as the disappearance of NSP and AX in the large intestine. RS was mainly digested in the caecum. AX was digested at a slower rate than RS. The digesta from AXD-fed pigs passed from the ileum to the distal colon more than twice as fast as those from WSD-fed pigs, with those from RSD-fed pigs being intermediate (P< 0·001). AXD feeding resulted in a higher number of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Roseburia intestinalis, Blautia coccoides–Eubacterium rectale, Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. in the faeces sampled at week 3 of the experimental period (P< 0·05). In the caecum, proximal and mid colon, AXD feeding resulted in a 3- to 5-fold higher pool size of butyrate compared with WSD feeding, with the RSD being intermediate (P <0·001). In conclusion, the RSD and AXD differently affected digestion processes compared with the WSD, and the AXD most efficiently shifted the microbial composition towards butyrogenic species in the faeces and increased the large-intestinal butyrate pool size.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Diets high in resistant starch and arabinoxylan modulate digestion processes and SCFA pool size in the large intestine and faecal microbial composition in pigs
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Diets high in resistant starch and arabinoxylan modulate digestion processes and SCFA pool size in the large intestine and faecal microbial composition in pigs
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Diets high in resistant starch and arabinoxylan modulate digestion processes and SCFA pool size in the large intestine and faecal microbial composition in pigs
      Available formats


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: T. S. Nielsen, email


Hide All
1 Lipkin, M, Reddy, B, Newmark, H, et al. (1999) Dietary factors in human colorectal cancer. Annu Rev Nutr 19, 545586.
2 Spooren, CE, Pierik, MJ, Zeegers, MP, et al. (2013) Review Article: the association of diet with onset and relapse in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 38, 11721187.
3 Wong, JM, de Souza, R, Kendall, CW, et al. (2006) Colonic health: fermentation and short chain fatty acids. J Clin Gastroenterol 40, 235243.
4 Leonel, AJ & Alvarez-Leite, JI (2012) Butyrate: implications for intestinal function. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 15, 474479.
5 Perrin, P, Pierre, F, Patry, Y, et al. (2001) Only fibres promoting a stable butyrate producing colonic ecosystem decrease the rate of aberrant crypt foci in rats. Gut 48, 5361.
6 Toden, S, Bird, AR, Topping, DL, et al. (2007) Dose-dependent reduction of dietary protein-induced colonocyte DNA damage by resistant starch in rats correlates more highly with caecal butyrate than with other short chain fatty acids. Cancer Biol Ther 6, 253258.
7 Kovarik, JJ, Tillinger, W, Hofer, J, et al. (2011) Impaired anti-inflammatory efficacy of n-butyrate in patients with IBD. Eur J Clin Invest 41, 291298.
8 Hamer, HM, Jonkers, DM, Bast, A, et al. (2009) Butyrate modulates oxidative stress in the colonic mucosa of healthy humans. Clin Nutr 28, 8893.
9 Clarke, JM, Young, GP, Topping, DL, et al. (2012) Butyrate delivered by butyrylated starch increases distal colonic epithelial apoptosis in carcinogen-treated rats. Carcinogenesis 33, 197202.
10 Canani, RB, Di Costanzo, M & Leone, L (2012) The epigenetic effects of butyrate: potential therapeutic implications for clinical practice. Clin Epigenetics 4, 4.
11 Fung, KY, Cosgrove, L, Lockett, T, et al. (2012) A review of the potential mechanisms for the lowering of colorectal oncogenesis by butyrate. Br J Nutr 108, 820831.
12 The European Commission (2008) EU and Codex Definitions of dietary fibre – text with comments by N.G. Asp and S. Bryngelsson. (accessed March 2014)..
13 Bird, AR, Conlon, MA, Christophersen, CT, et al. (2010) Resistant starch, large bowel fermentation and a broader perspective of prebiotics and probiotics. Benef Microbes 1, 423431.
14 Haenen, D, Zhang, J, Souza da Silva, C, et al. (2013) A diet high in resistant starch modulates microbiota composition, SCFA concentrations, and gene expression in pig intestine. J Nutr 143, 274283.
15 Hamer, HM, Jonkers, D, Venema, K, et al. (2008) Review Article: the role of butyrate on colonic function. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 27, 104119.
16 Jackson-Thompson, J, Ahmed, F, German, RR, et al. (2006) Descriptive epidemiology of colorectal cancer in the United States, 1998–2001. Cancer 107, 11031111.
17 Kolida, S, Tuohy, K & Gibson, GR (2002) Prebiotic effects of inulin and oligofructose. Br J Nutr 87, Suppl. 2, S193S197.
18 Izydorczyk, MS & Biliaderis, CG (1995) Cereal arabinoxylans: advances in structure and physicochemical properties. Carbohydr Polym 28, 3348.
19 Glitso, LV, Gruppen, H, Schols, HA, et al. (1999) Degradation of rye arabinoxylans in the large intestine of pigs. J Sci Food Agric 79, 961969.
20 Nielsen, KL, Hartvigsen, ML, Hedemann, MS, et al. (2014) Similar metabolic responses in pigs and humans to breads with different contents and compositions of dietary fibers: a metabolomics study. Am J Clin Nutr 99, 941949.
21 Miller, ER & Ullrey, DE (1987) The pig as a model for human nutrition. Annu Rev Nutr 7, 361382.
22 Damen, B, Cloetens, L, Broekaert, WF, et al. (2012) Consumption of breads containing in situ-produced arabinoxylan oligosaccharides alters gastrointestinal effects in healthy volunteers. J Nutr 142, 470477.
23 Bach Knudsen, KE, Serena, A, Kjaer, AK, et al. (2005) Rye bread enhances the production and plasma concentration of butyrate but not the plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin in pigs. J Nutr 135, 16961704.
24 Choct, M, Selby, EAD, Cadogan, DJ, et al. (2004) Effects of particle size, processing, and dry or liquid feeding on performance of piglets. Aust J Agric Res 55, 237245.
25 Ingerslev, AK, Theil, PK, Hedemann, MS, et al. (2014) Resistant starch and arabinoxylan augment SCFA absorption, but affect postprandial glucose and insulin responses differently. Br J Nutr 111, 15641576.
26 AOAC (1990) Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International, 15th ed. Arlington, VA: AOAC International.
27 Hansen, B (1989) Determination of nitrogen as elementary N, and alternative to Kjeldahl. Acta Agric Scand 39, 113118.
28 Stoldt, W (1952) Worslag zur verinheitlichung der fettbestimmung in lebensmitteln (Suggestion to standardise the determination of fat in foodstuffs). F Seif Anst 54, 206207.
29 Larsson, K & Bengtsson, S (1983) Bestämning av lätttilgängeliga kolhydrater i växtmaterial (Determination of readily available carbohydrates in plant material). In National Laboratory of Agricultural Chemistry Methods Report no. 22 , vol. 22, Uppsala: National Laboratory of Agricultural Chemistry.
30 Bach Knudsen, KE (1997) Carbohydrate and lignin contents of plant materials used in animal feeding. Anim Feed Sci Technol 67, 319338.
31 Kasprzak, MM, Lærke, HN & Bach Knudsen, KE (2012) Effects of isolated and complex dietary fiber matrices in breads on carbohydrate digestibility and physiochemical properties of ileal effluent from pigs. J Agric Food Chem 60, 1246912476.
32 Englyst, HN & Cummings, JH (1984) Simplified method for the measurement of total non-starch polysaccharides by gas–liquid-chromatography of constitute sugars as alditol acetate. Analyst 109, 937942.
33 Theander, O & Åman, P (1979) Studies on dietary-fibers. 1. Analysis and chemical characterization of water-soluble and water-insoluble dietary-fibers. Swe J Agric Res 9, 97106.
34 McCleary, BV & Glennie-Holmes, M (1985) Enzymatic quantification of (1 → 3)(1 → 4)-β-d-glucan in barley and malt. J Inst Brew 91, 285295.
35 Schürch, AF, Lloyd, LE & Crampton, EW (1950) The use of chromic oxide as an index for determining digestibility of a diet. J Nutr 41, 629636.
36 Jensen, MT, Cox, RP & Jensen, BB (1995) Microbial production of skatole in the hindgut of pigs given different diets and its relation to skatole deposition in the back fat. Anim Sci 61, 293304.
37 Lahtinen, SJ, Forssten, S, Aakko, J, et al. (2012) Probiotic cheese containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM(R) modifies subpopulations of fecal lactobacilli and Clostridium difficile in the elderly. Age (Dordr) 34, 133143.
38 Rinttila, T, Kassinen, A, Malinen, E, et al. (2004) Development of an extensive set of 16S rDNA-targeted primers for quantification of pathogenic and indigenous bacteria in faecal samples by real-time PCR. J Appl Microbiol 97, 11661177.
39 Makivuokko, H, Nurmi, J, Nurminen, P, et al. (2005) In vitro effects on polydextrose by colonic bacteria and caco-2 cell cyclooxygenase gene expression. Nutr Cancer 52, 94104.
40 Russell, WR, Hoyles, L, Flint, HJ, et al. (2013) Colonic bacterial metabolites and human health. Curr Opin Microbiol 16, 246254.
41 Brahe, LK, Astrup, A & Larsen, LH (2013) Is butyrate the link between diet, intestinal microbiota and obesity-related metabolic diseases? Obes Rev 14, 950959.
42 Bach Knudsen, KE & Lærke, HN (2010) Rye arabinoxylans: molecular structure, physiochemical properties and physiological effects in the gastrointestinal tract. Cereal Chem 87, 353362.
43 Annison, G & Topping, DL (1994) Nutritional role of resistant starch: chemical structure vs physiological function. Annu Rev Nutr 14, 297320.
44 Glitso, LV, Brunsgaard, G, Hojsgaard, S, et al. (1998) Intestinal degradation in pigs of rye dietary fibre with different structural characteristics. Br J Nutr 80, 457468.
45 Rose, DJ, Patterson, JA & Hamaker, BR (2010) Structural differences among alkali-soluble arabinoxylans from maize (Zea mays), rice (Oryza sativa), and wheat (Triticum aestivum) brans influence human fecal fermentation profiles. J Agric Food Chem 58, 493499.
46 Higgins, JA & Brown, IL (2013) Resistant starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 29, 190194.
47 Jonathan, MC, Haenen, D, Souza da Silva, C, et al. (2013) Influence of a diet rich in resistant starch on the degradation of non-starch polysaccharides in the large intestine of pigs. Carbohydr Polym 93, 232239.
48 Giuberti, G, Gallo, A, Moschini, M, et al. (2013) In vitro production of short-chain fatty acids from resistant starch by pig faecal inoculum. Animal 7, 14461453.
49 McOrist, AL, Miller, RB, Bird, AR, et al. (2011) Fecal butyrate levels vary widely among individuals but are usually increased by a diet high in resistant starch. J Nutr 141, 883889.
50 Le Gall, M, Serena, A, Jorgensen, H, et al. (2009) The role of whole-wheat grain and wheat and rye ingredients on the digestion and fermentation processes in the gut – a model experiment with pigs. Br J Nutr 102, 15901600.
51 Johnson, IT (1992) The influence of dietary fibre on lipid digestion and absorption. In Dietary Fibre – A Component of Food. Nutritional Function in Health and Disease, pp. 167180. New York, NY: Springer.
52 Neyrinck, AM, Possemiers, S, Druart, C, et al. (2011) Prebiotic effects of wheat arabinoxylan related to the increase in bifidobacteria, Roseburia and Bacteroides/Prevotella in diet-induced obese mice. PLoS ONE 6, e20944.
53 Regmi, PR, Metzler-Zebeli, BU, Ganzle, MG, et al. (2011) Starch with high amylose content and low in vitro digestibility increases intestinal nutrient flow and microbial fermentation and selectively promotes bifidobacteria in pigs. J Nutr 141, 12731280.
54 Theil, PK, Jorgensen, H, Serena, A, et al. (2011) Products deriving from microbial fermentation are linked to insulinaemic response in pigs fed breads prepared from whole-wheat grain and wheat and rye ingredients. Br J Nutr 105, 373383.
55 Bach Knudsen, KE & Hansen, I (1991) Gastrointestinal implications in pigs of wheat and oat fractions. 1. Digestibility and bulking properties of polysaccharides and other major constituents. Br J Nutr 65, 217232.
56 Marsono, Y, Illman, RJ, Clarke, JM, et al. (1993) Plasma lipids and large bowel volatile fatty acids in pigs fed on white rice, brown rice and rice bran. Br J Nutr 70, 503513.
57 Govers, MJ, Gannon, NJ, Dunshea, FR, et al. (1999) Wheat bran affects the site of fermentation of resistant starch and luminal indexes related to colon cancer risk: a study in pigs. Gut 45, 840847.
58 Yang, J, Martinez, I, Walter, J, et al. (2013) In vitro characterization of the impact of selected dietary fibers on fecal microbiota composition and short chain fatty acid production. Anaerobe 23, 7481.
59 Kaur, A, Rose, DJ, Rumpagaporn, P, et al. (2011) In vitro batch fecal fermentation comparison of gas and short-chain fatty acid production using “slowly fermentable” dietary fibers. J Food Sci 76, H137H142.
60 van den Abbeele, P, Venema, K, Van De Wiele, T, et al. (2013) Different human gut models reveal the distinct fermentation patters of arabinoxylan versus inulin. J Agric Food Chem 61, 98199827.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed