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Dose-dependent effects of enteral nutrition on the faecal microbiota and short chain fatty acids.

Clinical Nutrition 2024 April 10
INTRODUCTION: Enteral nutrition (EN) involves replacing all or part of a person's habitual diet with a nutritional formula. The impact of varying doses of EN on the gut microbiome remains understudied.

METHODS: Healthy adults replaced all (100% EN) or part (85% EN, 50% EN and 20% EN) of their energy requirements with EN for 7 days. Faecal samples were collected before and on day 7 of interventions. Faecal pH, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), branched-chain fatty acids (BCFAs) and 16S rRNA sequencing were performed. Dietary assessment was performed with 7-day food diaries.

RESULTS: Sixty-one participants (31 females; median (IQR) age: 24.7 (23.0-27.8) years) were recruited. A dose-dependent impact of EN on faecal microbiota, SCFAs, BCFAs) and pH was observed, with changes detectable at EN intakes of at least 50% of energy requirements. 100% and 85% EN reduced the abundance of fibre-fermenting taxa such as Agathobacter, Faecalibaterium, Succinivibrio and Acidaminococcus. In parallel, potentially harmful organisms like Eubacterium, Actinomyces, and Klebsiella increased. In the 50% EN group, adherence to a diet high in fish, vegetables, potatoes, non-alcoholic beverages, and fat spreads, and low in cereal products, milk, and meat negatively correlated with changes in microbiota structure (r = -0.75, P = 0.025). This signal was not observed when using compositional tools for microbiota analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: EN detrimentally influences the faecal microbiota and diet-related bacterial metabolites in a dose-dependent manner, particularly at doses of at least 50%. The findings of this study have implications for the dietary management and counselling of patients receiving high volume EN.

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