Raspberries are polyphenol-rich fruits with the potential to reduce the severity of the clinical signs associated with obesity, a phenomenon that may be related to changes in the gut microbiota. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of raspberry supplementation on the fecal microbiota using an in vivo model of obesity. Obese diabetic db/db mice were used in this study and assigned to two experimental groups (with and without raspberry supplementation). Fecal samples were collected at the end of the supplementation period (8 weeks) and used for bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiling using a MiSeq instrument (Illumina). QIIME 1.8 was used to analyze the 16S data. Raspberry supplementation was associated with an increased abundance of Lachnospiraceae (p = 0.009), a very important group for gut health, and decreased abundances of Lactobacillus, Odoribacter, and the fiber degrader S24-7 family as well as unknown groups of Bacteroidales and Enterobacteriaceae (p < 0.05). These changes were enough to clearly differentiate bacterial communities accordingly to treatment, based on the analysis of UniFrac distance metrics. However, a predictive approach of functional profiles showed no difference between the treatment groups. Fecal metabolomic analysis provided critical information regarding the raspberry-supplemented group, whose relatively higher phytosterol concentrations may be relevant for the host health, considering the proven health benefits of these phytochemicals. Further studies are needed to investigate whether the observed differences in microbial communities (e.g., Lachnospiraceae) or metabolites relate to clinically significant differences that can prompt the use of raspberry extracts to help patients with obesity.
- Gut microbiota