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New data about D-fagomine, a potential functional food ingredient

Scientists at Bioglane, a Spanish Research Council (CSIC) spin-off company, show now in in the British Journal of Nutrition that iminosugar D-fagomine as a functional agent lowers postprandial blood glucose and selectively modulates bacterial adhesion.

D-fagomine naturally occurs in buckwheat (pictured).Iminosugars, also called iminocyclitols, are nitrogenated sugar analogues. Most of them have the capacity to inhibit the intestinal enzymes (glycosidases) that break up sucrose and starch into absorbable glucose units. They can thus lower blood glucose concentration after eating. This effect could lower the risk of developing insulin resistance and becoming overweight.

The iminosugar D-fagomine is a naturally occurring iminocyclitol, first isolated from buckwheat in 1974 that had been thought to be of little nutritional interest as it is only a weak glycosidase inhibitor in vitro.

A new study by scientists at Bioglane, a Spanish Research Council (CSIC) spin-off company, shows that  D-fagomine effectively lowers postprandial blood glucose levels after oral administration to rats without stimulating insulin release. The study was performed by Bioglane in collaboration with different research institutions in the Barcelona area: the Institut de Química Avançada de Catalunya, CSIC; two Universities (Universitat de Barcelona and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and the Barcelona Science Park.

The study shows that, when ingested together with sucrose or starch, D-fagomine lowers blood glucose in a dose-dependent manner without stimulating insulin secretion. D-Fagomine reduced the area under the blood glucose concentration curve (0-120 min) by 20% and shifted the time to maximum by 15 min at doses of 1-2 mg/kg body weight when administered to rats together with 1 g sucrose/kg body weight. Insulinaemia decreased in accordance with the decrease in blood glucose.

The paper also describes the new finding that D-fagomine selectively agglutinates putatively dangerous bacteria and inhibits their adhesion to the intestinal mucosa. D-Fagomine (0·14mM) agglutinated 60% of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium populations and inhibited their adhesion (95-99% cells in the supernatant) to intestinal mucosa while promoting the adhesion of Lactobacillus acidophilus (56% cells in the supernatant). D-Fagomine did not have any effect on bacterial cell viability.

D-Fagomine, a naturally occurring iminosugar that has been present in the human diet for centuries, may become a new dietary supplement and functional food ingredient with the ability to lower postprandial blood glucose and to agglutinate enterobacteria, thus reducing the health risks associated with an excessive intake of fast-digestible carbohydrates, or an excess of potentially pathogenic bacteria.