Synthetic glycans that control gut microbiome structure mitigate colitis in mice
Relative abundances of bacterial species in the gut microbiome have been linked to many diseases. Species of gut bacteria are ecologically differentiated by their abilities to metabolize different glycans, making glycan delivery a powerful way to alter the microbiome to promote health. We describe the properties and therapeutic potential of chemically diverse synthetic glycans (SGs). Fermentation of SGs by gut microbiome cultures resulted in compound-specific shifts in taxonomic and metabolite profiles not observed with reference glycans, including prebiotics. Model enteric pathogens grow poorly on most SGs, potentially increasing their safety for at-risk populations. SGs increased survival, reduced weight loss, and improved clinical scores in mouse models of colitis. Synthetic glycans are thus a promising modality to improve health through selective changes to the gut microbiome.