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Front Immunol. 2018 May 11;9:923. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00923. eCollection 2018.

Exposure of Intestinal Epithelial Cells to Short- and Long-Chain Fructo-Oligosaccharides and CpG Oligodeoxynucleotides Enhances Peanut-Specific T Helper 1 Polarization.

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Department of Dermatology/Allergology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Laboratory of Translational Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Division of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Immunology Platform, Nutricia Research, Utrecht, Netherlands.



Non-digestible oligosaccharides promote colonization of beneficial gut bacteria and have direct immunomodulatory effects. Apical exposure of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) to short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scGOS/lcFOS) in a transwell co-culture model enhanced the CpG-induced (TLR-9 ligand) T helper 1 (Th1) phenotype and regulatory IL-10 response of underlying peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of healthy donors. scGOS is derived from lactose and may pose risks in severe cow's milk allergic patients, and scFOS/lcFOS may be an alternative. The goal of this study was to determine the immunomodulatory effects of scGOS/lcFOS and scFOS/lcFOS in an allergen-specific transwell co-culture model using PBMCs from peanut-allergic patients.


IECs cultured on transwell filters were apically exposed to CpG, either or not in combination with oligosaccharides. These IECs were co-cultured with basolateral PBMCs of peanut-allergic patients that were either activated with aCD3/28 or peanut extract. Basolateral cytokine production and T-cell polarization were measured and the contribution of galectin-9 and the dectin-1 receptor in immune modulation were assessed.


IECs exposed to CpG increased IFN-γ, IL-10, and galectin-9 production by aCD3/28-stimulated PBMCs, whereas IL-13 decreased. Both scGOS/lcFOS and scFOS/lcFOS further enhanced IFN-γ and IL-10, while suppressing IL-13 and TNF-α. In the peanut-specific model, only scFOS/lcFOS further increased IFN-γ and IL-10 production, coinciding with enhanced Th1-frequency. Expression of CRTH2 reduced after CpG exposure, and was further reduced by scFOS/lcFOS. Galectin-9 inhibitor TIM-3-Fc abrogated the additional effect of scFOS/lcFOS on peanut-specific IFN-γ production, while neutralization of the dectin-1 receptor was not effective.


Epithelial exposure to scFOS/lcFOS enhanced the CpG-induced Th1 and regulatory IL-10 response in a peanut-specific co-culture model. These effects suggest scFOS/lcFOS as candidate for dietary adjunct in allergen-specific immunotherapy.


T cell polarization; allergen-specific; co-culture; epithelial cells; immunomodulation; non-digestible oligosaccharides

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