Galectin-9 induced by dietary synbiotics is involved in suppression of allergic symptoms in mice and humans

S de Kivit, E. Saeland, A.D. Kraneveld, H.J.G. Van De Kant, B. Schouten, B.C.A.M. Van Esch, J. Knol, A.B. Sprikkelman, L.B. Van Der Aa, L.M.J. Knippels, J. Garssen, Y. Van Kooyk, L.E.M. Willemsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Prebiotic galacto- and fructo-oligosaccharides (scGOS/lcFOS) resembling non-digestible oligosaccharides in human milk reduce the development of atopic disorders. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Galectins are soluble-type lectins recognizing β-galactoside containing glycans. Galectin-9 has been shown to regulate mast cell degranulation and T-cell differentiation. In this study, the involvement of galectin-9 as a mechanism by which scGOS/lcFOS in combination with Bifidobacterium breve M-16V protects against acute allergic symptoms was investigated. Methods: Mice were sensitized orally to whey, while being fed with a diet containing scGOS/lcFOS and Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (GF/Bb) or a control diet. Galectin-9 expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in the intestine and measured in the serum by ELISA. T-cell differentiation was investigated in the mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) as well as in galectin-9-exposed peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) cultures. Sera of the mice were evaluated for the capacity to suppress mast cell degranulation using a RBL-2H3 degranulation assay. In addition, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial, galectin-9 levels were measured in the sera of 90 infants with atopic dermatitis who received hydrolyzed formulae with or without GF/Bb. Results: Galectin-9 expression by intestinal epithelial cells and serum galectin-9 levels were increased in mice and humans following dietary intervention with GF/Bb and correlated with reduced acute allergic skin reaction and mast cell degranulation. In addition, GF/Bb enhanced Th1- and Treg-cell differentiation in MLN and in PBMC cultures exposed to galectin-9. Conclusions: Dietary supplementation with GF/Bb enhances serum galectin-9 levels, which associates with the prevention of allergic symptoms. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • allergy
  • galectin-9
  • immune modulation
  • intestinal epithelial cells
  • non-digestible oligosaccharides
  • ecalectin
  • fructose oligosaccharide
  • synbiotic agent
  • animal experiment
  • animal model
  • article
  • atopic dermatitis
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • cell culture
  • cell differentiation
  • controlled study
  • enzyme linked immunosorbent assay
  • female
  • human
  • human cell
  • immunohistochemistry
  • infant
  • intestine epithelium cell
  • major clinical study
  • mast cell degranulation
  • mesentery lymph node
  • nonhuman
  • peripheral blood mononuclear cell
  • priority journal
  • protein assembly
  • protein blood level
  • protein expression
  • regulatory T lymphocyte
  • skin manifestation
  • T lymphocyte
  • Th1 cell


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