Modulating the immune system and intestinal barrier integrity with functional oligosaccharides

Susana Figueroa Lozano

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

    535 Downloads (Pure)


    The oligosaccharides present in milk have health benefits for consumers beyond the expected nutritional value alone. These oligosaccharides can be found free or conjugated to more complex molecules, such as proteins and they not only serve as growth substrate for the intestinal bacteria, they can directly modulate the response of the intestinal cells. Although, their potential benefits on human health are recognized the amount of studies that show such functionality is limited.
    In the research presented in this thesis, we studied how the oligosaccharide composition affects the immunomodulatory capacity of bovine lactoferrin (bLF). We show that depending on the change of composition of these oligosaccharides the release of molecules that mediate inflammatory pathways via immune sensors called toll-like receptors can be increased or decreased.
    Our results indicated that also the oligosaccharides removed from bLF have the ability to block inflammatory responses as efficiently as compounds that are clinically used for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as chloroquine.
    The lactose found in cow milk can be elongated into oligosaccharides that mimic the chemical structures of the oligosaccharides present naturally in human milk. These resulting structures are currently used to fortify infant formula. Molecules such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) can protect the intestinal barrier against damage. Thanks to recent developments in production and characterization of carbohydrates, it is possible to better understand how oligosaccharides play a role in human health and disease.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • de Vos, Paul, Supervisor
    • Faas, Marijke, Co-supervisor
    Award date2-Feb-2021
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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