Short-and branched-chain fatty acids as fecal markers for microbiota activity in vegans and omnivores
A vegan diet could impact microbiota composition and bacterial metabolites like shortchain (SCFA) and branched-chain fatty acids (BCFA). The aim of this study was to compare the concentrations of SCFA, BCFA, ammonia, and fecal pH between vegans and omnivores. In this cross-sectional study (vegans n = 36; omnivores n = 36), microbiota composition, fecal SCFA, BCFA, and ammonia concentrations and pH were analyzed in complete stool samples. A random forest regression (RFR) was used to identify bacteria predicting SCFA/BCFA concentrations in vegans and omnivores. No significant differences in SCFA and BCFA concentrations were observed between vegans and omnivores. Fecal pH (p = 0.005) and ammonia concentration (p = 0.01) were significantly lower in vegans than in omnivores, while fiber intake was higher (p < 0.0001). Shannon diversity was higher in omnivores compared to vegans on species level (p = 0.04) only. In vegans, a cluster of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Prevotella copri, Dialister spp., and Eubacterium spp. was predictive for SCFA and BCFA concentrations. In omnivores, Bacteroides spp., Clostridium spp., Ruminococcus spp., and Prevotella copri were predictive. Though SCFA and BCFA did not differ between vegans and omnivores, the results of the RFR suggest that bacterial functionality may be adapted to varying nutrient availability in these diets.