Stability and Reproducibility of the System

The SIMGI model has been recently developed and, therefore, it has a short history in evaluating digestion of food components and/or the effects of diet on modulating the gut microbiota and its metabolic activity. The fermentative module of the system (AC, TC and DC compartments) follows the concept of multiple connected, anaerobic, pH-controlled vessels. Multi-compartment fermentation models are usually represented by three-stage culture reactors as initially designed by Gibson et al. (1988). This feature allows these models to reproduce differences from proximal (characterized by acidic pH and carbohydrate-excess conditions) to distal colonic regions (showing a carbohydrate-depleted and non-acidic environment). The validation of three-stage culture fermentation models to simulate the ascending, transverse and descending colon conditions have been earlier described by Macfarlane et al. (1998) and Molly et al. (1994).

The biological functioning of these fermentation models requires the development of a colon region-specific microbial community that needs to be stabilized before starting any experimental approach. This initial stage allows the microbial evolution in the three reactors from a fecal inoculum to a colon region-specific microbiota (Possemiers et al. 2004; Macfarlane et al. 1998). In addition, the stabilization period is required to provide a steady-state environment where the composition and metabolism of the microbial community can be evaluated during long-term experimental dietary interventions.

The evolution of the gut microbiota in the AC, TC and DC compartments of the SIMGI model was followed during a 2-week stabilization period (Barroso et al. 2015). Results indicated that from day 8 onwards the microbial DGGE fingerprints of samples from the same compartment clustered together and that at 14 days the microbial communities reached the steady state. The counts of some representative microbial groups analyzed by quantitative PCR (qPCR) in the AC, TC and DC compartments are shown in Fig. 28.2. Differences observed between the compartments indicated that Bacteroides were more representative in the AC and TC compartments than in the DC reactor, whereas the butyrate-producing groups C. leptum and Ruminoccocus were less represented in the proximal colon compartment (AC) than in the distal vessels (TC and DC). This specific microbiota composition during the stabilization period has also been observed in the three-stage culture model SHIME (Barroso et al. 2014; Van den Abbeele et al. 2010).

Fig. 28.2 Mean ± SD of qPCR counts (log copy number/mL) for the microbial groups analyzed in the ascending (AC), transverse (TC) and descending colon (DC) compartments of the SIMGI after 2 weeks of stabilization

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