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Functional assessment of interactions
between the human gut microbiota and the host

Contract number : QLK1-2001-00135
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.238.374
EC contribution : € 1.739.074
Starting date : 1/01/2002
Duration : 48 Months
Scientific Officer : Jürgen Lucas
Project website : proeuhealth/
Prof. Dr Glenn Gibson
University of Reading
School of Food Biosciences
RG6 6AP Reading
United Kingdom
Tel.: +44-1189-357223
Fax: +44-1189-357222
E-mail: g.r.gibson @

The aim is to identify the effects of dietary modulation of the human gastrointestinal microflora. The influence of live microbial feed supplements (probiotics), dietary carbohydrates known to have a selective metabolism (prebiotics), and a combination of these two approaches (synbiotics) will be ascertained. The main objectives are to clarify effects on the normal gut microflora, and on host gastrointestinal function, as well as determine mechanisms involved in pro, pre and synbiotic functionality. These objectives will be achieved through exploitation of model systems and state-of-the-art technology. It is anticipated that a successful project will have much relevance for consumers, clinicians, nutritionists and microbiologists. In addition, the identification of host-microbe interactions will facilitate impetus into functional foods in the EU.


Principal objectives are to determine the efficacy and safety of probiotics and prebiotics, determine effective doses/combinations, identify mechanisms of action and investigate impacts on host function. An important aspect will be the development of new synbiotics and their use in a human trial.

The work planned aims to identify the mechanisms of effect and to produce valuable information on the influence of dietary intervention on the activities of human gut microflora. In addition, it provides an essential means of validating probiotics and prebiotic, and will give information on the optimal combinational approach.

There is now an imperative requirement to identify the realistic health outcomes associated with probiotic and prebiotic intake and, importantly, give rigorous attention towards determining their mechanisms of effect. This project will aim to do so through investigating probiotic and prebiotic influence on host functionality - including microbiological and physiological aspects.

(expected) Results and achievements

The aim is to identify mechanistic interrelationships through fundamental scientific approaches. Over four years, 35 scientific deliverables will have been met resulting in the milestones: efficient prebiotics and required dosage; active synbiotics; effects of functional foods on bacterial translocation; effects on host gene interactions; safety of functional foods determined; effects on selected health indices in humans.


University of Turku
Department of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry
Vaselankatu 2
20014 Turku
Wageningen University
Laboratory of Microbiology
Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences
Hesselink van Suchtelenweg 4
PO Box 8033
6703 CT Wageningen
The Netherlands
Lund University
Department of Food Technology
PO Box 124
221 00 Lund
University of Tartu
Department of Microbiology
Ravila 19
50411 Tartu
Tiense Suikerraffinaderij NV
Aandorenstraat 1
3300 Tienen
Probi AB
Ideon Gamma 1
22370 Lund
University of New South Wales
School of Microbiology and Immunology
2052 UNSW Sydney

Fifth Framework Programme

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