Gastrointestinal metabolism in health and disease

Gastrointestinal horizontaal

It is widely accepted that the symbiotic and commensal microbiota, residing in the human gastrointestinal tract are in intimate communication with the host, which is the result of a long period of co-adaptation between the gut microbiome and the host genotype. The gut microbiota provide to the host specific capacities ranging from dietary energy recovery from nutrients to protection against infectious diseases. In parallel, an increasing awareness exists that many intestinal diseases involve a significant perturbation of the mammalian-microbial symbiosis including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

In this context a clear relation exists with the diet. In particular, metabolomics offers new opportunities to provide unique insights into the regulatory processes involved in our metabolic homeostasis. By the study of biofluids (blood, urine), stools, tissues (intact biopsies or extracts) and simulated gastrointestinal suspensions, metabolomics assures the characterization of metabolic profiles or fingerprints that can be associated with individual phenotypes, which encompass dietary or disease status. Biologically relevant metabolomic endpoints including DNA adduct measurements are included in this as well.

Ongoing projects

  • Red and processed meat in the diet: toxicological and metabolomic profiling under simulated gastrointestinal conditions (FWO): Sophie Goethals
  • Fecal metabolomics to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of food supplements in type 2 diabetes mellitus (IWT): Lieven Van Meulebroek
  • A metabolomics approach to investigate the association between heme in red meat and the development of colon cancer (IWT): Caroline Rombouts and Arno Vanderbeke
  • Mechanistic investigation of gastrointestinal meat digestion in relation to colon cancer: Lieselot Hemeryck
  • Metabolic fingerprinting of the human gut phenotype in health and disease (BOF): Lieselot Hemeryck
  • Discovery of metabolite biomarkers for early diagnosis of cow’s milk allergy (FWO): Ellen De Paepe
  • The impact of stress on physiology, emotion regulation and food choices in adolescents: a laboratory intervention study (BOF): Kathleen Wijnant

Finished projects

  • Formation and (geno)toxic activity of nitrosylation and oxidation products in the gastro-intestinal tract: role of nitrite-cured meat products and prevention (FOD Public health): Thomas Van Hecke - view PhD
  • Impact of meat and processed meat products on the formation and (geno)toxic activity of N-nitroso compounds in the human gastrointestinal tract (FWO): Lynn Vanhaecke