Sugars to restore neonatal gut health
The objective of this project is to provide an alternative treatment and/or prevention strategy for bacterial early life intestinal infections using specific non-digestible oligosaccharides and human milk oligosaccharides. The complementary expertise in carbohydrate chemistry (FrieslandCampina), bacterial adaptation mechanisms and “omics” (Department of Biomolecular Health Sciences, Utrecht University), non-digestible oligosaccharides and epithelial barriers (Division of Pharmacology, Utrecht University), and mucosal immunology and pediatric infections (Erasmus MC) within our consortium will be valuable to address this objective.
Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed medications in early life and there is a growing concern for short- and long-term adverse effects with early-life antibiotic exposure and the emergence of resistant strains. Especially in infants a healthy start is of eminent importance and early life (intestinal) infections can have serious implications. A reduction in infections and antibiotic use can reduce the burden on public health care systems and lead to greater self-reliance, more independency, and an improved quality of life the population. Therefore, alternatives that can tackle these problems are needed.
We will evaluate 1) the effects of non-digestible oligosaccharides on intestinal bacterial pathogen (e.g. E. coli and Clostridium) growth, and 2) on bacterial pathogen-disturbed intestinal barrier and immune function. 3) We aim to characterise the underlying mechanism of their antimicrobial/barrier-protective properties and use these non-digestible oligosaccharides in combination with antibiotics to investigate additive effects. 4) In addition, the additive/synergistic effects of combinations of different promising oligosaccharides that possess antimicrobial/barrier-protective properties will be explored.
This project will gather knowledge of the antimicrobial mechanism of non-digestible oligosaccharides/human milk oligosaccharides and thus provide a scientific basis for the clinical use of these oligosaccharides. We aim to uncover at least 2 oligosaccharide mixtures exhibiting antimicrobial /barrier-protective properties and which might be used in future clinical trials, ultimately leading to oligosaccharide mixtures that can be used in products, like infant formula, to prevent/treat early life (intestinal) infections.