Obesity and metabolic syndrome (MS) associated with excess calorie intake has become a great public health concern worldwide. L-arabinose, a naturally occurring plant pentose, has a promising future as a novel food ingredient with benefits in MS; yet the mechanisms remain to be further elucidated. Gut microbiota is recently recognized to play key roles in MS. Molecular hydrogen, an emerging medical gas with reported benefits in MS, can be produced and utilized by gut microbes. Here we show oral L-arabinose elicited immediate and robust release of hydrogen in mice in a dose-and-time-dependent manner while alleviating high-fat-diet (HFD) induced MS including increased body weight especially fat weight, impaired insulin sensitivity, liver steatosis, dyslipidemia and elevated inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, L-arabinose modulated gene-expressions involved in lipid metabolism and mitochondrial function in key metabolic tissues. Antibiotics treatment abolished L-arabinose-elicited hydrogen production independent of diet type, confirming gut microbes as the source of hydrogen. q-PCR of fecal 16S rDNA revealed modulation of relative abundances of hydrogen-producing and hydrogen-consuming gut microbes as well as probiotics by HFD and L-arabinose. Our data uncovered modulating gut microbiota and hydrogen yield, expression of genes governing lipid metabolism and mitochondrial function in metabolic tissues is underlying L-arabinose’s benefits in MS.
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