Folkerts G.1, Garssen J.2

1 Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

2 Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Our body is attacked continuously by many different danger signals. An effective immune system is essential in order to protect. Unbalanced immune reactivity seems to play a key role in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as for example chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer and even cardiovascular diseases and obesity. According to the WHO NCDs are not only relevant for high income countries but even for middle and low income areas. It is essential to develop new avenues to prevent the enormous increase in incidence and severity of NCDs. Early life programming including proper education of our immune system (a.o. inflammation management) has been recognized as one of the most promising approaches.
The awareness of the importance of a diverse microbiome in immune-regulation/inflammation management and as a consequence impact on NCDs is growing exponentially. After birth, the development of a “healthy” gut microbiome is considered to play an important role in the susceptibility for a.o. immune related diseases including NCDs. Non-digestible prebiotic oligosaccharides and even some unique microbes are transferred by the mother through the breastmilk to the child. Some of these affect the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiome leading to health benefits (prebiotic function). As an example it has been shown that specific non-digestible oligosaccharides (GOS/FOS) induce a gut microbiome comparable at least in part to breastfed infants. In addition to indirect effects on the immune system via microbiome changes prebiotic oligosaccharides can affect immune cells in a direct fashion as well
Recent clinical trials indicated that unique prebiotic fibers can impair the incidence and severity of allergic disorders. The majority of the studies so far indicated immune effects in individuals still having an immature immune system (infants and toddlers). However, very recent data indicated significant impact on other immune related diseases in other life stages as well such as HIV infections, copd, cancer and asthma.

Both pharma as well as specialized–nutrition companies do see the highly relevance of microbiome manupilation for both prevention as well as treatment of some immune related disorders linked to NCDs. However more research, multicenter trials, and long-term follow-up studies are needed in order to validate the uniqueness of a.o. non-digestible oligosaccharides and microbiome management in both classical pharma approaches as well as specialised and medical nutrition aimed at NCD management.

Keywords: Probiotics

Folkerts G., Garssen J. (2016). Microbiome manipulation and immune regulation: Impact for NCD'S? Conference Proceedings of IPC2016. Paper presented at the International Scientific Conference on Probiotics and Prebiotics, Budapest (p. 25.). IPC2016

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