To investigate whether propionate promotes PYY and GLP-1 secretion, a primary cultured human colonic cell model was developed. To deliver propionate specifically to the colon, we developed a novel inulin-propionate ester. An acute randomised, controlled cross-over study was used to assess the effects of this inulin-propionate ester on energy intake and plasma PYY and GLP-1 concentrations. The long-term effects of inulin-propionate ester on weight gain were subsequently assessed in a randomised, controlled 24-week study involving 60 overweight adults.
Propionate significantly stimulated the release of PYY and GLP-1 from human colonic cells. Acute ingestion of 10 g inulin-propionate ester significantly increased postprandial plasma PYY and GLP-1 and reduced energy intake. Over 24 weeks, 10 g/day inulin-propionate ester supplementation significantly reduced weight gain, intra-abdominal adipose tissue distribution, intrahepatocellular lipid content and prevented the deterioration in insulin sensitivity observed in the inulin-control group.
These data demonstrate for the first time that increasing colonic propionate prevents weight gain in overweight adult humans.