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 a mild microbial infection.

This project aims to define the signatures of a healthy gut. We test the validity of a set of existing single biomarkers and explore whether new techniques such as genomics, gut microbiomics, and metabolomics in exhaled breath can be used to access signatures of healthy-gut biomarkers. The focus is on easily-accessible biomarkers that can be monitored using a limited number of biological sample types, such as stool, blood and exhaled breath, accessed from (prospective) cohorts of healthy subjects and from patients with functional GI disorders.

During 2013 we collected extensive datasets covering more than 18,000 individuals from leading Dutch cohorts. We created our own sub–cohorts, LifeLines-Deep (LLDeep), which has 1,500 participants and supplied extra data to be shared in the project, as well as supplying 500 of our own participants in the Maastricht-IBS (M-IBS) cohort. In 2014 the focus will shift to analysing the material collected so far and correlating the existing single biomarkers, genetics, exhaled breath and microbiomes. The relationships between these markers, GI health and intestinal integrity will be established, as well as the effects of quality of life, diet, physical activity and individual genetic backgrounds on marker values.

The project received an extension of contribution for three incentive projects: 1. Analysis of miRNA in plasma as a possible biomarker; 2. Analysis of exhaled breath in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and 3. Comparison of analytical platforms for microbiota profiling in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. In 2014, this project was awarded the annual Joop Roels Impact Award.

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