In order to study health effects which result from intestinal processes (e.g. pre- or probiotic modulation of the intestinal microbiota), endpoints related to host response should be included in the study. To do this, in vivo studies may be used, yet problems with accessibility and the high degree of complexity limit the acquisition of mechanistic information on health effects of specific processes. By using an innovative in vitro toolbox, ProDigest has optimized the use of in vitro strategies for the integrated study of both intestinal processes and host health endpoints. To do this, cell culture assays (e.g. co-culture of enterocytes and macrophages) are directly combined with the SHIME model in either an online or offline strategy.
The unique aspect of this development relates to the fact that we do not test the individual product as such, under artificial conditions (as typically done in cell culture assays), but the complete environmental matrix - containing both the product, its direct metabolites and indirect changes in the intestinal environment - is evaluated in the test model. This allows to obtain a much more relevant view on the final health effects the tested product may have in the intestine and the rest of the body.
The ProDigest in vitro toolbox can be used to evaluate the effect of a treatment on:
- gut wall barrier functioning,
- stimulation of the immune system (e.g. production of (anti-)inflammatory cytokines)
- oxidant/anti-oxidant activity
- production of satiety hormones
- biomarker for cardiovascular disease