Galacto-oligosaccharides may directly enhance intestinal barrier function through the modulation of goblet cells

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Mar;59(3):566-73. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400639. Epub 2014 Dec 28.


Scope: Here we have tested the hypothesis that prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) may enhance mucosal barrier function through direct modulation of goblet cell function.

Methods and results: Human adenocarcinoma-derived LS174T cells, which exhibit an intestinal goblet cell-like phenotype, were used to examine the non-prebiotic effects of GOS on goblet cell functions. LS174T cells were treated with GOS, and the expression of goblet cell secretory product genes mucin 2 (MUC2), trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), resistin-like molecule beta (RETNLB) and the Golgi-sulfotransferase genes, carbohydrate (N-acetylglucosamine-6-O) sulfotransferase 5 (CHST5) and galactose-3-O-sulfotransferase 2 (GAL3ST2), was determined by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. In addition, the abundance of CHST5, TFF3 and RETNLB was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Following treatment with GOS for 72 h, the expression of MUC2 was significantly upregulated 2-4-fold, CHST5 and RETNLB, 5-7-fold, and TFF3 2-4-fold. Western blot analysis demonstrated increased abundance of RETNLB, TFF3 and CHST5. Addition of the Th2 cytokine IL-13 along with GOS resulted in synergistic induction of RETNLB and CHST5. IL-8 secretion was not affected by GOS treatment, suggesting that the effects of GOS are not mediated through an inflammatory pathway.

Conclusion: Collectively, the data indicate that GOS may enhance mucosal barrier function through direct stimulation of intestinal goblet cells.

Keywords: Galacto-oligosaccharides; Golgi-sulfotransferases; LS174T goblet cells; RELMβ; RETNLB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Goblet Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Interleukin-13 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Mucin-2 / genetics
  • Mucin-2 / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Sulfotransferases / genetics
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism
  • Sulfurtransferases / genetics
  • Sulfurtransferases / metabolism
  • Trefoil Factor-3


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-8
  • MUC2 protein, human
  • Mucin-2
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Peptides
  • RETNLB protein, human
  • TFF3 protein, human
  • Trefoil Factor-3
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • GAL3ST2 protein, human
  • Sulfotransferases
  • carbohydrate sulfotransferases