Synthetic Galacto-oligoosaccharide Shows Anti-Inflammatory Effect Similar to Human Milk, Study Suggests


Researchers say it is the first time a synthetic GOS complex has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory intestinal effect that is functionally similar to human milk.

Photo © Marchal

Photo © Marchal

A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests Bimuno, a synthetic galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) complex, may inhibit intestinal inflammation in a functionally similar way as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS). The finding could have major implications for the gut health of infants who cannot be breast-fed.

“The benefits of human milk in promoting healthy gut bacteria-providing protection from infection, reducing inflammation and supporting healthy gut development-are well documented,” said David Newburg, PhD, lead investigator of the study. “Scientists have long been trying to understand and replicate this functionality.”

For the new study, researchers compared the anti-inflammatory properties of HMOS and Bimuno GOS with controls in human cells in vitro and intestinal tissue ex vivo. Bimuno was found to offer a “comparable effect” as HMOS of anti-inflammatory activity against various markers of inflammation and reduced inflammation in immature intestinal cells.

It is the first time researchers have discovered a synthetic GOS demonstrating this effect, according to Bimuno supplier Clasado (Jersey, United Kingdom).

“We are excited by the results of this important study and are committed to further investigating the benefits Bimuno could offer infants who cannot be breast fed,” said Graham Waters, CEO, Clasado. “The next step in our robust scientific program is an infant feeding study comparing the properties of human milk, Bimuno, and other GOS formulations.”


Study Details

Researchers compared the effect of GOS and HMOS on immature human normal fetal intestinal epithelial cells (H4), mature human metastatic colonic epithelial cell (Y84), and human normal colon mucosal epithelial cell (NCM-46) enterocyte cell lines. Inflammation was induced in the cells with tumor necrosis factor-α(TNF-α), interleukin-1β(IL-1β), or infection with Salmonella or Listeria.

Both HMOS and GOS were found to prevent inflammation induced by pro-inflammatory molecules in the intestine, reduce inflammation in immature cells, and help prevent inflammation induced by the pathogenic bacteria Listeria and Salmonella. For Salmonella specifically, HMOS and GOS inhibited the inflammation response to infection to 26% and 50%, respectively, compared to controls.

Researchers attributed the anti-inflammatory activity to the specific mixture of the components 3’-, 4-, and 6’- gallactosyllactose, which is present in both HMOS and GOS, but in different proportions.

“With further investigation, this form of GOS may be able to provide infants with similar intestinal protection,” said Newburg. “It may also have anti-inflammatory implications for the adult gut, such as protecting against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).”


Read more:

Xylooligosaccharide Prebiotic Improves Gut Flora in Pre-Diabetic Subjects, Study Suggests

Drinking Yogurts Find New Footing?

Fiber Market Flourishes in 2015


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


Newburg DS et al., “Human milk oligosaccharides and synthetic galactosyloligosaccharides contain 3’-, 4-, abd 6’-galactosyllactose and attenuate inflammation in human T84, NCM-460, and H4 cells and Intestinal tissue ex vivo,” TheJournal of Nutrition, vol. 146, no. 2 (February 2016): 358–367

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