Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 11 pp 15366—15383

The effects of psyllium husk on gut microbiota composition and function in chronically constipated women of reproductive age using 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis

Chuanli Yang1, *, , Shuai Liu2, *, , Hongxia Li3, , Xinshu Bai2, , Shuhua Shan4, , Peng Gao5, , Xiushan Dong1, &, ,

  • 1 Department of General Surgery, Shanxi Bethune Hospital (Shanxi Academy of Medical Sciences), Taiyuan, China
  • 2 Graduate School, Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, China
  • 3 Shanxi Provincial Cancer Hospital, Taiyuan, China
  • 4 Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Molecular Engineering of National Ministry of Education, Institute of Biotechnology, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, China
  • 5 BGI Life Science Research Institution, Shenzhen, China
* Equal contribution

Received: November 19, 2020       Accepted: March 4, 2021       Published: June 3, 2021
How to Cite
This article has been corrected. See Correction. Aging (Albany NY). 2022; 14:2923-2923 .  PMID: 35354118

Copyright: © 2021 Yang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Chronic constipation is a common gastrointestinal disorder that occurs in the elderly and in women. Psyllium husk is widely used to treat this condition. Recent studies have shown that psyllium husk can improve the clinical symptoms of constipation by regulating gut microbiota, but its clinical effects and potential mechanisms in constipated women of reproductive age have not been previously investigated. We compared fecal microbiota after treatment with placebo (n = 29) and psyllium husk (n = 25) using 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) gene sequencing analysis. Psyllium husk relieved the symptoms of constipated women of reproductive age. Sequencing results showed that the psyllium husk group exhibited a different gut microbiota composition compared to that of the placebo group. Moreover, network analysis indicated more significant correlations and clustering of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in the psyllium husk group. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) annotation analysis showed that the relative abundances of metabolism-related KEGG pathways were enriched in the psyllium husk group. In conclusion, these findings suggest that the composition of gut microbiota was altered and that symptoms of constipation were alleviated via psyllium husk intervention. The changes in metabolic function might be related to constipation. Furthermore, these studies are warranted to elucidate the potential metabolic mechanisms contributing to chronic constipation.


BMs: bowel movements; BMI: body mass index; FMT: fecal microbiota transplantation; KEGG: Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes; LDA: linear discriminant analysis; NGS: next-generation sequencing; OTUs: operational taxonomic units; PPIs: proton pump inhibitors; rRNA: ribosomal ribonucleic acid; ROC: receiver operating characteristic.