Validation of markers (GH001)

Project leader: Dr Cisca Wijmenga


There is an urgent need for established markers that reflect and predict gastrointestinal (GI) health. GI health is best defined as the absence of both disease and GI discomfort and the organism’s ability to return to homeostasis after a challenge, such as heavy exercise or mild microbial infection.

The aim of this project is to test the validity of single and omics-type biomarkers in (prospective) cohorts of healthy subjects and in patients with functional GI disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and colic. The focus is on easily-accessible biomarkers that can be monitored in large cohorts using a limited number of biological samples such as, stool, blood and exhaled breath. The relationship between these markers, GI health and intestinal integrity will be established, as well as the effects of diet, physical activity and individual genetic backgrounds on marker values.

The project consists of two phases. Phase 1 is building the infrastructure required for sampling and storage of biomaterials and cohort information. In 2011 all the necessary biomaterials for phase 1 were collected from two prospective cohorts: the general population cohort LifeLines and the MUMC+/IBS cohort (for benchmarking the biomarkers). Phase 1 also includes analysis of selected single biomarkers (in blood and stool) and a pilot study for analysis of microbiota (in stool) and metabolites in exhaled breath. In phase 2 the focus will shift to signatures of biomarkers by establishing profiles of microbiota and metabolites, as it is unlikely that a single biomarker will serve as a surrogate for a clinical endpoint or health condition.

TI Food and Nutrition Project Leader: Dr Cisca Wijmenga
Time Frame: 2011 – 2014