Food-induced modulation of the intestinal immune barrier

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Project leader: Dr Paul de Vos
Time Frame: 2011 – 2015
Project code: GH002
Project login (project members only)



Many food products contain bioactive ingredients that might contribute to gastrointestinal health, such as probiotics and fibres. To date, scientific substantiation of such beneficial effects has been difficult to obtain due to the absence of validated tests. This project aims to develop a technology platform for testing the effects of novel food components on the intestinal immune barrier. The platform will assist food manufacturers in substantiating their health claims.

Both in vitro and in vivo model studies are being performed to investigate how food components can modulate the intestinal immune barrier. The research focus is on the mutual effects and interplay between the intestinal microbial ecology, the mucus, the epithelial barrier and the immune system. Some immune biomarkers, that measure effects in different ages and genders, have been identified. The essential role of mucus, in the maintenance of the intestinal immune barrier, has been confirmed. A patent for an immune biomarker and three scientific papers on immune sampling have recently been accepted.

In 2013 the project received a funding extension and three ‘incentive’ projects were added to the project: 1) FibeBiotics, 2) The case of Akkermansia and Mucositis and 3) Bioactive food ingredients.

The addition of the FibeBiotics project has allowed us to develop more technologies to predict the bioactivity of food components in humans. The Mucositis project started in 2015 and serves as a novel model to study the efficacy of food components. In The case of Akkermansia project, a mucus degrader – microbiota – will be studied in more detail via immune sampling. The project will be completed with human volunteer clinical trials to study the effects of immunomodulating food products on the intestinal immune barrier.


Recent publications

Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Weight gain in freshman college students and perceived health View summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 The impact of dietary fibers on dendritic cell responses in vitro is dependent on the differential effects of the fibers on intestinal epithelial cells View summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Resistant starches differentially stimulate Toll-like receptors and attenuate proinflammatory cytokines in dendritic cells by modulation of intestinal epithelial cells  View summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Interaction of mouse splenocytes and macrophages with bacterial strains in vitro: the effect of age in the immune response View summary