Tailoring the design of antioxidant dietary fibres to optimize health benefits of polyphenols


Plant derived polyphenols (PPs) are an important group of functional ingredients with anti-inflammatory,
antioxidant and cardiovascular protective activities. In
many foods, PPs are bound to dietary fibres (DF). Interestingly, there is a link between these compounds in the diet and immunity in a host via the so-called Aryl Hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr). The Ahr plays an important role in maintaining normal intestinal immune functioning. Several PPs are able to activate the Ahr, thereby potentially promoting gut health if PPs reach the right place of the gut at the right concentration, which partially depends on the type and structure of dietary fibres. DF themselves are also considered to have beneficial effects on host physiology and immunity, via effects on the microbiota and source of short chain fatty acids (SCFA). In this research we investigate the
effect of PPs on AhR and of several DFs on gut immunomodulation.

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  • To study which polyphenols or dietary fibres can activate the Ahr and in what amounts is this activation optimal.
  • To study if different sources of polyphenols or dietary fibres influence their capacity in activation of Ahr.
  • How and if the combination of different polyphenols or dietary fibres is of influence in Ahr activation.
  • To study the fate of compounds during fermentation and their possible loss in bioactivity or bioavailability.


    We will use in vitro methods, including biological assays (e.g. Chemical
    Activated Luciferase gene eXpression (CALUX®) reporter assay) and in vitro fermentation models (e.g. Simulator
    of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem, SHIME®).


    Students following an MSc program in Nutrition and Health, Biology, Animal Sciences or a similar study with background in immunology and affinity in food/feed technology.

    Contact information:

    candidate Jonna Koper Email: