Prebiotics: Why definitions matter

Robert W. Hutkins, Janina A. Krumbeck, Laure B. Bindels, Patrice D. Cani, George Fahey, Yong Jun Goh, Bruce Hamaker, Eric C. Martens, David A. Mills, Robert A. Rastal, Elaine Vaughan, Mary Ellen Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

304 Scopus citations


The prebiotic concept was introduced twenty years ago, and despite several revisions to the original definition, the scientific community has continued to debate what it means to be a prebiotic. How prebiotics are defined is important not only for the scientific community, but also for regulatory agencies, the food industry, consumers and healthcare professionals. Recent developments in community-wide sequencing and glycomics have revealed that more complex interactions occur between putative prebiotic substrates and the gut microbiota than previously considered. A consensus among scientists on the most appropriate definition of a prebiotic is necessary to enable continued use of the term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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