A researcher from the Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences will conduct research with the use of neuroprotective strategies on the role of lactic acid bacteria derived from food by maintaining homeostasis of the lower human digestive tract. In recent years, the gut microbiota has been recognized as an important factor in brain development due to the connection identified between the intestines and the brain, called the “gut-brain axis”. The modulation of the microbiota through probiotic supplementation may affect the cognitive functions. However, the ability of probiotic bacteria and food ingredients to affect well-established gut microbiota has not been sufficiently known yet. The gut microbiota has a significant influence on the metabolism of the entire organism by participating in metabolic processes. The balanced microbiome is essential for the maintenance of the host’s health. Therefore, some researchers put forward a hypothesis that it might be beneficial to give probiotics intentionally for people with too small number of certain groups of microorganisms.
Dr Zielińska, the author of the research project, asks the following questions:
Are the strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) of the collected Lactobacillus genus able to modulate the gut microbiota? Can the tested Lactobacillus bacteria or their metabolites play a neuroprotective role?
The aim of the project is to determine the ability of Lactobacillus bacteria isolated from food for neuroprotection by modulating the gut microbiota and the metabolites production, which will be investigated using the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®). The application of the dynamic simulator of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem (SHIME®) is undoubtedly a pioneering and innovative approach to the study of the composition and functions of the gut microbiota. The digestion process is simulated in an environment where the number and proportions of various microorganisms, as well as the conditions such as temperature, pH, inoculum, and retention time are similar to those found in the human body. Although in vivo experiments are more representative for assessing the use of pro and prebiotics, the cost, time and ethics can be the limiting factors. The undertaken research will provide new knowledge on the role of Lactobacillus bacteria isolated from food with the neuroprotective effect and how to maintain the homeostasis of the human digestive tract. In particular, they will identify the strains responsible for producing the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), GABA and strains with anti-oxidative and immunomodulating properties. The research project will also allow for the development of the food and nutrition technology scientific discipline by extending the knowledge about the behavior of selected Lactobacillus strains in the presence of gut microbiota obtained from people suffering from cognitive disorders, and healthy people, considering their role in neuroprotective effects by maintaining intestinal health. Moreover, the research results can identify the mechanisms responsible for this effect, which will enable the formulation of further research hypotheses and planning of further research.
Dr hab. Dorota Zielińska, SGGW Professor
Habilitated doctor of Agricultural Sciences with a focus on food technology and nutrition. She has been working at the SGGW Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences since 2008. Dr Zielińska is currently working as a university professor. Her areas of scientific interest include the microbiome, probiotics, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), postbiotics and food fermentation, and designing starter cultures for new functional products.