Aronia juice delivers ‘robust protection’ in humanized obese mice

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© gojak / Getty Images
© gojak / Getty Images

Related tags aronia Gut microbiome Antioxidant Anti-inflammatory metabolic health

Researchers from Montana State University transferred human stools to lab mice to demonstrate the metabolic, microbial and inflammatory effects of a high-fat diet supplemented with Aronia fruit juice in two different inflammation phenotypes.

“Aronia supplementation provided robust protection against high-fat diet induced metabolic and microbiome changes that were dependent in part on microbiome donor,” they wrote in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.​ “These metabolic changes elucidate pathway-specific drivers of reduced inflammation stemming from both Aronia and the gut microbiota.”

 The study was supported by grants from the Montana State University Research Initiative and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Growing evidence for Aronia

Aronia melanocarpa​, also known as black chokeberry, is native to the wet woods and swamps along the eastern seaboard of North America. The sour berries have been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are attributed to their high polyphenol content – including anthocyanins, procyanidins and hydroxycinnamic acids. 

Much of the Aronia research to date has focused on heart health benefits from enhanced blood flow​, normalized blood clots​ and regulated blood pressure​, and a growing body of evidence continues to expand upon the berry’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. 

“Antioxidant-rich foods, such as Aronia fruit, may counter inflammatory stimuli and positively modulate the gut microbiome,” the researchers noted. “However, a comprehensive study characterizing the impact of Aronia fruit supplementation has not been completed.” 

The Aronia juice used in the study was a blend of Mackenzie, Viking, and Autumn Magic cultivars grown at the Western Agricultural Research Center in Corvallis, Montana.

Study details

The researchers used the human stool samples to transfer microbiome composition and diversity and metabolic characteristics from two overweight female human donors – one with low and one with high inflammation levels – to two germ-free female mice, who were then impregnated to generate the test subjects for the study. 

The researchers confirmed that the beta-diversity analysis demonstrated that second-generation mice with direct exposure from their inoculated germ-free mice parent resembled their respective human stool donor. 

“Moreover, the microbial community was distinct by donor and remained distinct throughout the duration of the mouse experiment,” they added. 

These second-generation mice were given either an Aronia juice or carbohydrate-matched control beverage for two weeks before adding a high-fat diet to induce inflammation over a six-week period. Blood and fecal samples were collected throughout the course of an 8-week dietary intervention for subsequent analysis using 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

“Aronia induced increases in bacteria of the Eggerthellaceae​ genus (7-fold) which aligns with its known ability to metabolize (poly)phenols and in phosphatidylcholine metabolites which are consistent with improved gut barrier function,” the researchers reported. “The gut microbiome from a low inflammation phenotype donor provided protection against high-fat diet induced loss of microbiome β-diversity and global metabolomic shifts compared to that from the high inflammation donor.”

They suggested that further research consider replication with additional stool donors for better generalizability.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
“Metabolic impact of polyphenol-rich aronia fruit juice mediated by inflammation status of gut microbiome donors in humanized mouse model”
Authors: Stephanie M.G. Wilson et al.


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