Citrus polyphenols may produce anti-obesity gut health effects: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

The study used an hesperidin-rich extract from Citrus sinensis and paradisi.  Image © Denira777 / Getty Images
The study used an hesperidin-rich extract from Citrus sinensis and paradisi. Image © Denira777 / Getty Images

Related tags Prebiotic Citrus citrus extract Gut microbiota

An hesperidin-rich citrus extract may dose-dependently increase levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, particularly those with anti-obesity potential, says a new study.

Scientists from Maastricht University and BioActor in the Netherlands reported that BioActor’s branded citrus extract called MicrobiomeX, was associated with dose-dependent increases in Roseburia, Eubacterium ramulus​, and Bacteroides eggerthii​ in experiments using TIM-2, a computer-controlled in vitro​ model of the colon.

Writing in Nutrients​, the researchers also report that the citrus extract was associated with increased production of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) acetate.

“Several beneficial traits have been ascribed to acetate, including anti-microbial activity against pathogens, increase in fat oxidation and increase in secretion of regulatory neuropeptides that favor appetite suppression. The latter two traits are beneficial for overweight and obese individuals,” ​they wrote.


BioActor was founded in 2011, and the company currently offers eight branded ingredients, including MicrobiomeX, an extract from Citrus sinensis​ and paradisi​ that contains 88% hesperidin and 6.5% naringin.

In the US, the ingredient is distributed by Seppic, a division of French chemicals giant Air Liquide.

The results of this new study indicate that the citrus extract may be a potential prebiotic, defined by Gibson et al.​ as “a selectively fermented ingredient that results in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health”.

Study details

The new study examined the citrus extract in the TIM-2 model at two doses: 250 and 350 mg per day for three days. The results showed dose-dependent increases Roseburia, Eubacterium ramulus​, and Bacteroides eggerthii​.

​Roseburia is one of the most abundant intestinal butyrate-producing bacteria and has been linked with a reduction in inflammation and anti-obesity effects,” ​wrote the researchers.

However, the researchers reported that levels of the SCFA butyrate decreased​ slightly after treating the colonic microbiota with the citrus extract, while acetate levels increased.

“When cross-feeding mechanisms for conversion of acetate into butyrate do not occur, more acetate is produced and less butyrate,” ​explained the researchers. “This might explain why butyrate production is observed to be lower after supplementation with [citrus extract], despite observed increases in butyrate-producing taxa.”

To conclude, they wrote: “Although the validated in vitro model that was used has been shown on many cases to be predictive for the in vivo situation, it remains to be seen whether the [citrus extract] has a similar effect in human volunteers. This is currently under investigation.”

Hans van der Saag, CEO & Founder of Bioactor, told NutraIngredients-USA that MicrobiomeX has already been studied in humans in a clinical study, which showed an increase of butyrate and decrease in calprotectin levels. The study was cited in a paper published in Nutrients in 2019, he said (Nutrients​, 11​(7), 1464; doi: 10.3390/nu11071464​).

"Bioactor ​in-vivo and ​in-vitro studies are part of the Bioactor’s ongoing research program on MicrobiomeX with the goal of generating more evidence around its benefits for intestinal health in humans,"​ added van der Saag.

Source: Nutrients
2021, 13​(11), 3915; doi: 10.3390/nu13113915
“A Citrus Fruit Extract High in Polyphenols Beneficially Modulates the Gut Microbiota of Healthy Human Volunteers in a Validated ​In Vitro Model of the Colon”
Authors: M.M. Sost et al.

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