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Structure and Function of Bovine Whey Derived Oligosaccharides Showing Synbiotic Epithelial Barrier Protective Properties

Duncan, PI;Aitio, O;Heiskanen, A;Niemel, R;Saarinen, J;Helin, J;Porta, N;Fiaux, M;Monnoz, D;Golliard, M;Cherbut, C;Berrocal, R;Austin, S;Sprenger, N;

Commensal gut microbiota and probiotics have numerous effects on the host’s metabolic and protective systems, which occur primarily through the intestinal epithelial cell interface. Prebiotics, like galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are widely used to modulate their function and abundance. However, important structure–function relations may exist, requiring a detailed structural characterization. Here, we detailed the structural characterization of bovine whey derived oligosaccharide preparations enriched with GOS or not, dubbed GOS-enriched milk oligosaccharides (GMOS) or MOS, respectively. We explore GMOS’s and MOS’s potential to improve intestinal epithelial barrier function, assessed in a model based on barrier disruptive effects of the Clostridioides difficile toxin A. GMOS and MOS contain mainly GOS species composed of β1-6- and β1-3-linked galactoses, and 3′- and 6′-sialyllactose. Both GMOS and MOS, combined with lactobacilli, like Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LPR, NCC4007), gave synergistic epithelial barrier protection, while no such effect was observed with Bifidobacterium longum (BL NCC3001), Escherichia coli (Nissle) or fructo-oligosaccharides. Mechanistically, for barrier protection with MOS, (i) viable LPR was required, (ii) acidification of growth medium was not enough, (iii) LPR did not directly neutralize toxin A, and (iv) physical proximity of LPR with the intestinal epithelial cells was necessary. This is the first study, highlighting the importance of structure–function specificity and the necessity of the simultaneous presence of prebiotic, probiotic and host cell interactions required for a biological effect.