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Synergy of milk oligosaccharides and Bifidobacterium infantis in modulating gut epithelial cell function; impact on gut barrier function and the brain-gut axis (SYMOBIGUT)
Start date: May 1, 2012, End date: Oct 31, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The role of gut microbiota in modulating the brain-gut axis and in control of food intake and obesity has recently emerged. My out-going phase host, Dr Raybould at UC Davis (USA), is an internationally renowned scientist in the field of gut chemosensing by entero-endocrine cells (EEC) and signalling to the brain through vagal afferents. Preliminary experiments in her laboratory demonstrate a synergetic effect of milk oligosaccharides (MO) and a commensal bacteria, Bifdobacterium infantis in activating EEC. Using a multi-disciplinary approach and state-of-the art techniques, I aim to investigate i) how MO potentiate adhesion of B. infantis on epithelial cells through specific surface proteins and ii) what are the functional consequences at the intestinal epithelial cells and the brain-gut axis levels of such interactions. This will train me in methods and knowledge on EEC and vagal afferent signaling which I need to get in order to lead a small scientific group in the newly created ADNC unit at INRA, Rennes (France). This innovative project will provide basic knowledge on microbiota-EEC-vagal afferent interactions critical in the understanding of obesity and metabolic disorders, chronic diseases which are becoming a burden in our societies. It is also a unique ability for Europe to accelerate translation of a protective mechanism from human milk into wide-reaching nutritional strategies aimed at gut and metabolic health in humans. Moreover, the complementary skills (management of a multi-disciplinary project, student supervision, grant writing and creation of a multidisciplinary network within the Milk Bioactive Program at UC Davis) I will be trained in, ensured by the mentoring experience and the highly interactive environment of both host laboratories, will reinforce my position as a group leader in the ADNC unit. The proposed project is a great opportunity for Europe to support and prepare a young researcher to become a group leader in gut neurophysiology."
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