Immunomodulatory effects of dietary fibre supplementation: effects on cytokine and antibody production and lymphocyte population profiles
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Gastrointestinal microflora has been shown to have a bi-directional relationship with the host immune system. A variety of fermentable carbohydrate polymers largely pass through the small intestine, providing fermentable substrates for gut microflora. Dietary fibre supplementation may provide a strategy for manipulating the intestinal bacterial profile, changing the interaction with the mucosal immune system, thereby modulating the host immune system. We used a BBc rat animal model to evaluate the effects of oat bran and wheat bran dietary fibre on the immune system. Previous collaborative efforts have shown that these dietary fibres can change the intestinal microflora, with wheat bran fibre showing a greater ability to influence colonic microbial community diversity. We have shown that dietary wheat bran fibre led to reduced IL-4 levels in the liver and T lymphocyte numbers in the Mesenteric Lymph Node and may be involved in reduced IgA levels in the cecal contents. In addition, IgA in the cecal contents was decreased while MLN B cell numbers increased in response to dietary wheat bran fibre. It was observed that neither wheat bran or oat bran treatments exerted any pro-inflammatory effects, with oat bran actually improving antioxidant status. These results suggest that both oat and wheat bran fibre treatments induce changes in the intestinal microflora, and that the microflora changes due to wheat fibre are associated with immunomodulatory effects on the host. This type of dietary fibre supplementation could ultimately provide a potential strategy for promoting health through microflora-associated effects on the immune system.