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Non-digestible polysaccharides (NDPs) are considered as important ingredients to support health. Among these health effects, immunomodulatory effects raised interests in the past decade. The intestine is the primary organ that interact with NDPs. The intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) form a dynamic physical barrier and together with associated immune cells determine for a large part our immune homeostasis. Studying the direct interaction between NDPs and intestinal and immune cells could help us to uncover the mechanism by which NDPs exert immunomodulatory effects and how NDPs can differ in this activity. In this thesis, we investigated the immunomodulatory effects of NDPs through interaction with intestinal immune cells using in vitro methods in order to characterise the NDPs and preselect NDPs with differential activity for further in vivo evaluations.
The intestinal immune barrier is formed by various IECs and immune cells, which are introduced and their specific functions discussed in Chapter 1. NDPs could interact directly with both IECs and immune cells that sample in or from the lumen. The majority of IECs are enterocytes and most relevant immune cells responsible for sampling in the lumen have been characterised as macrophages, which leads us to focus on these cell types by in vitro approaches. In addition, basic information on NDPs and current status on health effects of NDPs both in vitro and in vivo are discussed.
In Chapter 2, the direct response of IEC to NDPs stimulation was investigated. IECs form the largest surface of the body that, with a crucial role as barrier also, perform a role in signalling towards immune cells. We used 21-day transwell cultured Caco-2 to resemble the small intestinal enterocytes that form largest part of this intestinal layer. We first characterized the chemical composition of five NDPs which revealed different mono sugar composition, linkages of backbone and side chains and a wide range of MW (from 17 KDa to 2100 KDa). The NDPs could reduce translocation of FITC-Dextran of 4 kDa across the epithelial layer, potentially through physical interference. Gene expression analysis indicated the induction of unique gene expression characteristics in Caco-2 cells upon exposure to different NDPs. An arabinoxylan preparation from wheat and a lentinan-containing extract from shiitake mushrooms showed upregulation of gene expression of the NF-κB family and chemokines CCL20 and CXCL10. Besides these immune related changes by some NDPs, we also observed changes in receptor expression (like TLR2, CD14 and GPCRs) and other pathways, amongst which the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway.
Macrophages, as the resident population of immune cells penetrating between or associating with close contact with the IECs, are generally classified as inflammatory (M1) or as tolerant (M2) macrophages. In Chapter 3, we set up a macrophage differentiation method based on primary blood cells and selected and validated M1 and M2 specific gene expression markers. Next, we analysed the effect when macrophages are exposed to NDPs and compared the resulting macrophages with M1 and M2 macrophages. Based on M1 and M2 markers we identified an alternative subset that we named MNDP. This MNDP was further studied by microarray analysis and revealed a commonly modulated set of genes, involved in migration, metabolic processes, cell cycle, and inflammatory immune function.
In Chapter 4, we further functionally characterize these MNDP in comparison to M1 and M2 macrophages based on a set of functional assays. NDP-treated macrophages showed no IDO activity and showed an inhibited antigen uptake and processing capacity compared to M1 and M2 macrophages. Also their phagocytic capacity was reduced compared to both M1 and M2 macrophages. Furthermore, the alternative expression pattern for NDP-treated macrophages, as demonstrated by gene expression, was confirmed by protein measurements. The signature mix of the chemokines CCL1, CCL5, CCL20, CCL24, CXCL8, and IL1β secreted by MNDP, and in particular when macrophages were treated with Naxus, was shown to induce a recruitment of monocytes.
As macrophage plasticity could be essential for intestinal immune homeostasis, resolving activity of inflammatory responses upon a challenge is important. Besides, redirecting differentiation and function of tolerant macrophages can also be beneficial to the intestinal immune status. In Chapter 5, we analysed plasticity of M1 and M2 macrophages to NDPs exposure. Macrophage plasticity was demonstrated as M1 and M2 could be skewed to an alternative subset indicated by a dedicated set of gene expression markers, selected to characterize M1, M2 and MNDP macrophages. In addition, phagocytosis and antigen processing capacity of both M1 and M2 were decreased by the NDP Naxus. Besides, Naxus could change the secretion of cytokines by macrophages that previously were differentiated towards M1 and M2. For M2, this resulted in an increase of recruitment of monocytes by M2 macrophages.
In Chapter 6, we discussed the important findings in each chapter of this thesis together with current literature, and gave a general perspective on this research line focussing on the immunomodulating activity of NDPs and the direction for future research. We suggested NDPs in terms of Naxus as candidate for guiding investigations in ex vivo and in vivo studies for immunomodulation of intestinal disease.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||18 Dec 2017|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
- immunomodulatory properties
- intestinal diseases
- human nutrition research