Experimental development of a fast, non-invasive technological tool to investigate the functionality and efficacy of pro- and prebiotics : a search for useful biomarkers

Project Details


The effects of pro- and prebiotic treatment may only become apparent after a long period of application. These long-term dietary interventions are virtually impossible to conduct experimentally for numerous reasons, including costs. Therefore, a biomaker is needed which shows, in an unequivocal way, the result of the fermentation activity of the gut bacteria, and which demontstrates the ecological equilibrium in the lumen of the colon. A biomarker means the measurement that reflects a change in a biochemical process, structure, or function that results from an interaction between a biological system and an environmental agent, including a dietary component. Equilibrium in the colon means the replacement or reduction of the number of putrefactive bacteria, which release toxic compounds by degration of proteins, and by the enrichment of the normal microflora with bacterial populations that ferment carbohydrates. Provided an appropriate supply of short-chain fatty acids, these toxic compounds may be converted by fermentation or secreted with the faeces through biomass formation. The changes of the microbial ecology of the intestines might in turn have a secondary effect on the immunology of the host. Further, the use of a well-chosen biomarker as indicator of biological responses to selected foods and food components may shorten the time necessary to observe significant changes, and may eliminate the interference with for instance the food matrix or other simultaneously consumed food constituents. Two candidate molecules, lactose-(15N)ureïde and (2H5-ring)phenylalanine labeled proteins, are being evaluated, their choice being based on the physiology of formation of short-chain fatty acids in the lumen of the colon, the biosynthesis of which may prevent the formation of toxic metabolites.
Effective start/end date1/01/0231/12/05

Flemish discipline codes

  • Biological sciences
  • Materials engineering
  • Chemical sciences


  • Probiotics
  • Colon fermentation
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Functional foods
  • Prebiotics
  • Biomarker