Immunological Properties of Inulin-Type Fructans

L. Vogt*, D. Meyer, G. Pullens, M.M. Faas, M.J. Smelt, K. Venema, U. Ramasamy, H.A. Schols, P. de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Beneficial effects of inulin-type fructans are discussed in view of studies that applied the oligosaccharides in colon cancer, chronic inflammatory diseases, vaccination efficacy, and prevention of infection and allergy. In the present paper, we discuss their immunomodulating effects. It is suggested that immunomodulation is elicited through indirect and direct mechanisms. Indirect mechanisms encompass stimulation of growth and activity of lactic acid bacteria, but can also be caused by fermentation products of these bacteria, i.e., short chain fatty acids. Evidence for direct effects on the immune system generally remains to be confirmed. It is suggested that inulin-type fructans can be detected by gut dendritic cells (DCs), through receptor ligation of pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) such as Toll-like receptors, nucleotide oligomerization domain containing proteins (NODs), C-type lectin receptors, and galectins, eventually inducing pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. DCs may also exert antigen presenting capacity toward effector cells, such as B cells, T cells, and natural killer cells locally, or in the spleen. Inulin-type fructans may also ligate PRRs expressed on gut epithelium, which could influence its barrier function. Inulin-type fructans are potent immunomodulating food components that hold many promises for prevention of disease. However, more studies into the mechanisms, dose-effect relations, and structure-function studies are required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-436
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • irritable-bowel-syndrome
  • aberrant crypt foci
  • probiotics lactobacillus-rhamnosus
  • dextran sodium-sulfate
  • chain fatty-acids
  • healthy elderly volunteers
  • colon-cancer patients
  • tnbs-induced colitis
  • b-cell responses
  • fisher 344 rats


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