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Research projects

Dietary Fibers supporting Gut and Immune Function - from polysaccharide compound to health claim (FibeBiotics)

About this project

Project information

Project status

Completed

Contact

Robert Jan Brummer

Research subject

Research environments

FibeBiotics is a EU funded project supporting the development of functional food ingredients and products that are beneficial for the human gut & immune system and therefore of crucial importance for quality of life. Effects of specific non-digestible polysaccharides (NPS), both new and those that have shown health potential in this field, will be studied more in depth through the cooperation of several universities and industrial partners. The health effects of NPS will be focused around enhancing the immune defense of elderly against pathogens through the reduction of infectious diseases like common cold and influenza.

The studied mechanisms are the innate and adaptive immune system and the possible involvement of the microbiota and microbiota-mediated products. To achieve this goal the NPS will be studied for their health effects in a systematic way by developing a toolbox of dedicated assays and models that can be used by industry and authorities to study and approve food ingredients with a similar health focus.

Our role at Örebro University is to study the various NPS both in vivo and ex vivo for their effect on gut barrier function using our newly established Ussing chamber system and cohort of elderly people. The Ussing chamber method is an excellent ex vivo tool for studying permeability in excised tissue (biopsies) and this will be done in both colon and the small intestine. With this technique we can perform experiments on living biopsies in a controlled environment were the biopsies are stimulated with NPS for a small time before the addition of a barrier-disrupting challenger to see whether NPS stimulation can withstand barrier breakdown.  For establishing this method we have been working intensively with Prof. Johan Söderholm’s group at Linköping University, which are one of the leading groups in the world with regards to Ussing chamber studies on human material.                                                                            

We will also perform in vivo studies were healthy controls and elderly people will orally ingest the NPS over a period of time. Biopsies from the small intestine and colon will be investigated for permeability before and after NPS consumption while also blood will be taken at these two time points for analysis of immune markers.  In addition we will also investigate microbiome changes in faeces, IgA levels in saliva and cytokine expression in biopsies together with our collaborators within the FibeBiotics consortium.  

By combining the knowledge that will be gained from molecular, cellular and whole-organism studies, the goal of this project will be to understand the bioactive mechanisms of these NPS and use this knowledge to design functional food products.

Research teams

Research funding bodies

  • EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)