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12-09-2010 | Gastroenterology | Article

Fibers from banana plantain, broccoli could help treat Crohn’s disease


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study findings show that soluble plant fibers, particularly from plantain and broccoli, inhibit the penetration of microfold (M) cells in the gut wall by mucosa-associated Escherichia coli and may therefore reduce inflammation in patients with Crohn's disease (CD).

In contrast, polysorbate-80, an emulsifier commonly found in processed foods was found to increase the transit of the "sticky" E. coli cells through the gut wall. To test the effects of the soluble plant fibers and emulsifier on the passage of mucosa-associated E. coli cells taken from the gut of CD patients, the researchers generated M-cell monolayers (co-culture of Caco2-cl1 and Raji B cells) and human Peyer's patches.

Primary CD lesions occur over Peyer's patches in the intestinal wall, and bacterial invasion by mucosa-associated E. coli through M cells, which are located in the epithelium of the Peyer's patch, is thought to play a significant role in triggering the inflammation seen in CD patients

The team, led by Barry Campbell (University of Liverpool, UK), found that plaintain and broccoli non-starch polysaccharide solution at a concentration of 5 mg/ml significantly reduced the transit of mucosa-associated E. coli cells across M-cells by 45.3-82.6% and across the human Peyer's patches by 45.0% whereas fibers from apples and leeks had no effect.

Polysorbate-80 (0.01% vol/vol), in contrast, significantly increased translocation of the bacteria through Caco2-cl1 monolayers 59-fold and through Peyer's patches two-fold, and, at higher concentrations, also significantly increased transit through M cells.

"CD affects people from all over the world, but it is much more prevalent in developed countries, where a diet of low fiber and processed foods is common," said study author Jonathan Rhodes (University of Liverpool, UK).

"Dietary factors and the increased numbers of E. coli in the intestine of Crohn's patients suggested to us that there could be a link between the food that we eat and the transportation of bacteria in the body."

Writing in the journal Gut, the researchers conclude that intervention studies are needed to evaluate the effect of dietary changes in soluble plant fiber and processed food emulsifiers on CD activity.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert