A Freeze-Dried Cranberry Powder Consistently Enhances SCFA Production and Lowers Abundance of Opportunistic Pathogens In Vitro
The American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, contains fibers and (poly)phenols that could exert health-promoting effects through modulation of gut microbiota. This study aimed to investigate how a freeze-dried whole cranberry powder (FCP) modulated metabolite production and microbial composition using both a 48-h incubation strategy and a long-term human gut simulator study with the M-SHIME (Mucosal Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem). FCP was repeatedly administered over three weeks. The studies included five and three study subjects, respectively. In both models, FCP significantly increased levels of health-related short-chain fatty acids (SCFA: acetate, propionate and butyrate), while decreased levels of branched-chain fatty acids (markers of proteolytic fermentation). Interestingly, FCP consistently increased luminal Bacteroidetes abundances in the proximal colon of the M-SHIME (+17.5 ± 9.3%) at the expense of Proteobacteria (−10.2 ± 1.5%). At family level, this was due to the stimulation of Bacteroidaceae and Prevotellaceae and a decrease of Pseudomonodaceae and Enterobacteriaceae. Despite of interpersonal differences, FCP also increased the abundance of families of known butyrate producers. Overall, FCP displayed an interesting prebiotic potential in vitro given its selective utilization by host microorganisms and potential health-related effects on inhibition of pathogens and selective stimulation of beneficial metabolites.