Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual herbaceous plant and a staple of traditional health remedies for metabolic conditions including high cholesterol and diabetes. While the mechanisms of the beneficial actions of fenugreek remain unknown, a role for intestinal microbiota in metabolic homeostasis is likely. To determine if fenugreek utilizes intestinal bacteria to offset the adverse effects of high fat diets, C57BL/6J mice were fed control/low fat (CD) or high fat (HFD) diets each supplemented with or without 2% (w/w) fenugreek for 16 weeks. The effects of fenugreek and HFD on gut microbiota were comprehensively mapped and then statistically assessed in relation to effects on metrics of body weight, hyperlipidemia, and glucose tolerance. 16S metagenomic analyses revealed robust and significant effects of fenugreek on gut microbiota, with alterations in both alpha and beta diversity as well as taxonomic redistribution under both CD and HFD conditions. As previously reported, fenugreek attenuated HFD-induced hyperlipidemia and stabilized glucose tolerance without affecting body weight. Finally, fenugreek specifically reversed the dysbiotic effects of HFD on numerous taxa in a manner tightly correlated with overall metabolic function. Collectively, these data reinforce the essential link between gut microbiota and metabolic syndrome and suggest that the preservation of healthy populations of gut microbiota participates in the beneficial properties of fenugreek in the context of modern Western-style diets.
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