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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Mar;59(3):566-73. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400639. Epub 2014 Dec 28.

Galacto-oligosaccharides may directly enhance intestinal barrier function through the modulation of goblet cells.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA.



Here we have tested the hypothesis that prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) may enhance mucosal barrier function through direct modulation of goblet cell function.


Human adenocarcinoma-derived LS174T cells, which exhibit an intestinal goblet cell-like phenotype, were used to examine the non-prebiotic effects of GOS on goblet cell functions. LS174T cells were treated with GOS, and the expression of goblet cell secretory product genes mucin 2 (MUC2), trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), resistin-like molecule beta (RETNLB) and the Golgi-sulfotransferase genes, carbohydrate (N-acetylglucosamine-6-O) sulfotransferase 5 (CHST5) and galactose-3-O-sulfotransferase 2 (GAL3ST2), was determined by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. In addition, the abundance of CHST5, TFF3 and RETNLB was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Following treatment with GOS for 72 h, the expression of MUC2 was significantly upregulated 2-4-fold, CHST5 and RETNLB, 5-7-fold, and TFF3 2-4-fold. Western blot analysis demonstrated increased abundance of RETNLB, TFF3 and CHST5. Addition of the Th2 cytokine IL-13 along with GOS resulted in synergistic induction of RETNLB and CHST5. IL-8 secretion was not affected by GOS treatment, suggesting that the effects of GOS are not mediated through an inflammatory pathway.


Collectively, the data indicate that GOS may enhance mucosal barrier function through direct stimulation of intestinal goblet cells.


Galacto-oligosaccharides; Golgi-sulfotransferases; LS174T goblet cells; RELMβ; RETNLB

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