Transcriptional response of cultured porcine intestinal epithelial cells to micro algae extracts in the presence and absence of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli

Marcel Hulst*, Rommie Van der Weide, Arjan Hoekman, Marinus Van Krimpen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Micro algae’s are worldwide considered as an alternative source of proteins in diets for animals and humans. Micro algae also produce an array of biological active substances with potential to induce beneficial and health promoting effects. To better understand the mode of action of micro algae’s when applied as additive in diets, porcine intestinal epithelial cells (IPEC-J2), stressed by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) or under non-stressed conditions, were exposed to micro algae extracts and changes in gene expression were recorded. Methods: IPEC-J2 cells were exposed for 2 and 6 h to extracts prepared from the biomass of the microalgae Chlorella vulgaris (C), Haematococcus pluvialis (H), Spirulina platensis (S), or a mixture of Scenedesmus obliques and Chlorella sorokiniana (AM), in the absence and presence of ETEC. Gene expression in cells was measured using porcine “whole genome” microarrays. Results: The micro algae extracts alone enhanced the expression of a set of genes coding for proteins with biological activity that are secreted from cells. These secreted proteins (hereafter denoted as effector proteins; EPs) may regulate processes like remodelling of the extracellular matrix, activation of an antiviral/bacterial response and oxygen homeostasis in the intestine and periphery. Elevated gene expression of immunostimulatory proteins CCL17, CXCL2, CXCL8 (alias IL8), IFNA, IFNL1, HMOX1, ITGB3, and THBS1 was observed in response to all four extracts in the absence or presence of ETEC. For several of these immunostimulatory proteins no elevated expression was observed when cells were exposed to ETEC alone. Furthermore, all extracts highly stimulated expression of an antisense RNA of the mitochondrial/peroxisome symporter SLC25A21 gene in ETEC-challenged cells. Inhibition of SLC25A21 translation by this antisense RNA may impose a concentration gradient of 2-oxoadipic and 2-oxoglutarate, both metabolites of fatty acid β-oxidation, between the cytoplasm and the interior of these organelles. Conclusions: Exposure of by ETEC stressed intestinal epithelium cells to micro algae extracts affected “fatty acid β-oxidation”, ATP and reactive oxygen species production and (de) hydroxylation of lysine residues in procollagen chains in these cells. Elevated gene expression of specific EPs and immunostimulatory proteins indicated that micro algae extracts, when used as feed/food additive, can steer an array of metabolic and immunological processes in the intestines of humans and monogastric animals stressed by an enteric bacterial pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019


  • Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli
  • Food/feed additive
  • Gene expression
  • Intestinal cells
  • Micro algae


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