Reduced Growth, Altered Gut Microbiome and Metabolite Profile, and Increased Chronic Kidney Disease Risk in Young Pigs Consuming a Diet Containing Highly Resistant Protein

Margaret Murray, Melinda T. Coughlan, Anne Gibbon, Vinod Kumar, Francine Z. Marques, Sophie Selby-Pham, Matthew Snelson, Kirill Tsyganov, Gary Williamson, Trent M. Woodruff, Tong Wu, Louise E. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


High-heat processed foods contain proteins that are partially resistant to enzymatic digestion and pass through to the colon. The fermentation of resistant proteins by gut microbes produces products that may contribute to chronic disease risk. This pilot study examined the effects of a resistant protein diet on growth, fecal microbiome, protein fermentation metabolites, and the biomarkers of health status in pigs as a model of human digestion and metabolism. Weanling pigs were fed with standard or resistant protein diets for 4 weeks. The resistant protein, approximately half as digestible as the standard protein, was designed to enter the colon for microbial fermentation. Fecal and blood samples were collected to assess the microbiome and circulating metabolites and biomarkers. The resistant protein diet group consumed less feed and grew to ~50% of the body mass of the standard diet group. The diets had unique effects on the fecal microbiome, as demonstrated by clustering in the principal coordinate analysis. There were 121 taxa that were significantly different between groups (adjusted-p < 0.05). Compared with control, plasma tri-methylamine-N-oxide, homocysteine, neopterin, and tyrosine were increased and plasma acetic acid was lowered following the resistant protein diet (all p < 0.05). Compared with control, estimated glomerular filtration rate (p < 0.01) and liver function marker aspartate aminotransferase (p < 0.05) were also lower following the resistant protein diet. A resistant protein diet shifted the composition of the fecal microbiome. The microbial fermentation of resistant protein affected the levels of circulating metabolites and the biomarkers of health status toward a profile indicative of increased inflammation and the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number816749
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2022


  • inflammation
  • kidney function
  • metabolomics
  • microbiome
  • protein fermentation
  • resistant protein

Cite this