Developments in understanding and applying prebiotics in research and practice: an ISAPP conference paper

Karen P Scott* (Corresponding Author), Roberta Grimaldi, Marla Cunningham, Shahrul Razid Sarbini, Anisha Wijeyesekera, Mimi L.K. Tang, Jetty C-Y Lee, Yu Fung Yau, Juliet Ansell, Stephan Theis, Kaiping Yang, Ravi Menon, Judith Arfsten, Sarmauli Manurung, Vishnupriya Gourineni, Glenn R. Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
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The concept of using specific dietary components to selectively modulate the gut microbiota to confer a health benefit, defined as prebiotics, originated in 1995. In 2018, a group of scientists met at the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics annual meeting in Singapore to discuss advances in the prebiotic field, focussing on issues affecting functionality, research methodology, and geographical differences.

Methods and Results
The discussion ranged from examining scientific literature supporting the efficacy of established prebiotics, to the prospects for establishing health benefits associated with novel compounds, isolated from different sources.

While many promising candidate prebiotics from across the globe have been highlighted in preliminary research, there are a limited number with both demonstrated mechanism of action and defined health benefits as required to meet the prebiotic definition.

Prebiotics are part of a food industry with increasing market sales, yet there are great disparities in regulations in different countries. Identification and commercialisation of new prebiotics with unique health benefits means that regulation must improve and remain up‐to‐date so as not to risk stifling research with potential health benefits for humans and other animals.

Significance and Impact of Study
This summary of the workshop discussions indicates potential avenues for expanding the range of prebiotic substrates, delivery methods to enhance health benefits for the end consumer, and guidance to better elucidate their activities in human studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-949
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number4
Early online date12 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Prebiotics
  • gut fermentation
  • microbiome
  • health benefits
  • prebiotics


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