Cooking, Digestion, and In Vitro Colonic Fermentation of Nigerian Wholegrains Affect Phenolic Acid Metabolism and Gut Microbiota Composition

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Wholegrains contain both fibre and phenolic acids (PAs), and their gastrointestinal modifications are critical for their bioavailability and bioactivity. We evaluated the modifications on the PA profile and gut microbiota composition of selected Nigerian wholegrains, following cooking and gastrointestinal digestion. Red fonio, red millet, red sorghum, and white corn were cooked, digested, and fermented using an in vitro colonic model. A total of 26 PA derivatives were quantified in soluble and bound fractions using Ultraperformance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) analysis. DNA samples were analysed using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing to profile the microbiota composition. The results show that cooking and digestion significantly affected the levels of PAs in all grains (p ≤ 0.05) compared to raw grains. Colonic fermentation resulted in a peak of total soluble PAs at 4–6 h for red sorghum and white corn and at 24 h for red millet and red fonio. Enterobacteriaceae genera were the most abundant at 24 h in all grains studied. 3-hydroxybenzaldehyde correlated positively with the relative abundance of Dorea and the mucus-degrader bacteria Akkermansia (p ≤ 0.05), whereas hydroferulic acid and isoferulic acid levels correlated negatively with Oscillospira and Ruminococcus (p ≤ 0.05), respectively. Our data indicate that cooking, digestion, and colonic fermentation affect the release of bound PAs from wholegrains and, consequently, their metabolic conversion. Furthermore, PA fermentation in the gut is associated with potentially relevant changes in the microbiota. This in vitro study provides the basis for the design of an in vivo human intervention study that can confirm the trends herein observed but also assess the impact on health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14111
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number18
Early online date14 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2023


  • Catalysis
  • Computer Science Applications
  • General Medicine
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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