Emanuele Ugo Garzarella, Beatriz Navajas-Porras, Sergio Pérez-Burillo, Hammad Ullah, Cristina Esposito, Cristina Santarcangelo, Daniel Hinojosa-Nogueira, Silvia Pastoriza, Vincenzo Zaccaria, Jianbo Xiao, José Ángel Rufián-Henares, Maria Daglia
A large body of evidence suggests that propolis exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities, mostly ascribed to its polyphenol content. Growing evidence suggests that propolis could modulate gut microbiota exerting a positive impact on several pathological conditions. The aim of this study was to determine the in vitro impact of a poplar-type propolis extract with a standardized polyphenol content, on the composition and functionality of gut microbiota obtained from fecal material of five different donors (healthy adults, and healthy, obese, celiac, and food allergic children).
The standardized polyphenol mixture was submitted to a simulated in vitro digestion-fermentation process, designed to mimic natural digestion in the human oral, gastric, and intestinal chambers. The antioxidant profile of propolis before and after the digestion-fermentation process was determined. 16 S rRNA amplicon next-generation sequencing (NGS) was used to test the effects on the gut microbiota of propolis extract. The profile of the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by the microbiota was also investigated through a chromatographic method coupled with UV detection.
In vitro digestion and fermentation induced a decrease in the antioxidant profile of propolis (i.e., decrease of total polyphenol content, antiradical and reducing activities). Propolis fermentation exhibited a modulatory effect on gut microbiota composition and functionality of healthy and diseased subjects increasing the concentration of SCFA.
Overall, these data suggest that propolis might contribute to gut health and could be a candidate for further studies in view of its use as a prebiotic ingredient.