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