In the present paper, we summarise the data supporting the following hypothesis: dietary inulin-type fructans extracted from chicory root may modulate the production of peptides, such as incretins, by endocrine cells present in the intestinal mucosa, this phenomenon being involved in the regulation of food intake and/or systemic effects. To test this hypothesis, male Wistar rats received for 3 weeks either a standard diet or the same diet supplemented with 10% inulin-type fructans with different degrees of polymerisation. All the effects were most pronounced with the diet containing oligofructose, and consisted of (i) a decrease in mean daily energy intake and in epididymal fat mass; (ii) a higher caecal pool of the anorexigenic glucagon-like peptide-1 (7–36) amide (GLP-1), and peptide YY (PYY), due to caecal tissue proliferation; (iii) an increase in GLP-1 and of its precursor – proglucagon mRNA – concentrations in the proximal colon; (iv) an increase in portal serum level of GLP-1 and PYY; (v) a decrease in serum orexigenic peptide ghrelin. Moreover, oligofructose supplementation improved glucose homeostasis (i.e. decreased glycaemia, increased pancreatic and serum insulin content) in diabetic rats previously treated with streptozotocin, a phenomenon that is partly linked to the reduction in food intake and that correlates with the increase in colic and portal GLP-1 content. Based on these results it appears justified to test, in human subjects, the hypothesis that dietary inulin-type fructans could play a role in the management of obesity and diabetes through their capacity to promote secretion of endogenous gastrointestinal peptides involved in appetite regulation.
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