OBJECTIVE: The goal of the study was to identify the potential nutrigenetic effects to inulin, a prebiotic fiber, in mice with different human apolipoprotein E (APOE) genetic variants. Specifically, we compared responses to inulin for the potential modulation of the systemic metabolism and neuroprotection via gut-brain axis in mice with human APOE ϵ3 and ϵ4 alleles.

METHOD: We performed experiments with young mice expressing the human APOE3 (E3FAD mice and APOE4 gene (E4FAD mice). We fed mice with either inulin or control diet for 16 weeks starting from 3 months of age. We determined gut microbiome diversity and composition using16s rRNA sequencing, systemic metabolism using in vivo MRI and metabolomics, and blood–brain barrier (BBB) tight junction expression using Western blot.

RESULTS: In both E3FAD and E4FAD mice, inulin altered the alpha and beta diversity of the gut microbiome, increased beneficial taxa of bacteria and elevated cecal short chain fatty acid and hippocampal scyllo-inositol. E3FAD mice had altered metabolism related to tryptophan and tyrosine, while E4FAD mice had changes in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, pentose phosphate pathway, and bile acids. Differences were found in levels of brain metabolites related to oxidative stress, and levels of Claudin-1 and Claudin-5 BBB tight junction expression.

DISCUSSION: We found that inulin had many similar beneficial effects in the gut and brain for both E3FAD and E4FAD mice, which may be protective for brain functions and reduce risk for neurodegeneration. . E3FAD and E4FAD mice also had distinct responses in several metabolic pathways, suggesting an APOE-dependent nutrigenetic effects in modulating systemic metabolism and neuroprotection.

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Published in Nutritional Neuroscience.

© 2021 The Author(s)

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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This research was supported by grants from NIH/NIA, NIH/ODS, and American Federation for Aging Research to A-LL (R01AG054459 and RF1AG062480); NIH/NIDDK to JDH and LMY (T32DK007778) and NIH/NIA to AMSH. NMR spectra were recorded at the Shared Resource(s) of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center P30CA177558. The 7 T ClinScan small animal MRI scanner was funded by the S10 NIH Shared Instrumentation Program Grant.

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The gut microbiome gene amplicon sequence data is available in the NCBI BioProject database (PRJNA540508). The raw data of other measurements will be made available upon request.