Eight-month-old Sprague-Dawley rats were fed on diets containing dietary fiber at the 5% level for 3 weeks to examine the effect on the lipid metabolism and immune function. Among cellulose, guar gum, partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG), glucomannan and highly methoxylated pectin, guar gum induced a significant decrease in the food intake and weight gain, as well as a significant increase in the liver weight. In addition, the epidydimal adipose tissue weight of the rats fed on PHGG was significantly higher than that of the rats fed on cellulose. There was no significant effect on the serum lipid levels, but the serum IgG level of the rats fed on guar gum was significantly lower than that of the rats fed on cellulose. The IgA and IgG productivity in mesenteric lymph node (MLN) lymphocytes was significantly higher in the rats fed on guar gum, glucomannan and pectin than in those fed on cellulose, while the effect on Ig productivity in spleen lymphocytes was not as marked. In addition, only guar gum induced a significant increase of IgM productivity in MLN lymphocytes when compared to the cellulose group. These results suggest that enhancement of the immune function by dietary fiber is mainly expressed in the gut immune system.
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