A β-Glucan-Based Dietary Fiber Reduces Mast Cell-Induced Hyperpermeability in Ileum From Patients With Crohn's Disease and Control Subjects

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Dec 19;24(1):166-178. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izx002.


Background: Administration of β-glucan has shown immune-enhancing effects. Our aim was to investigate whether β-glucan could attenuate mast cell (MC)-induced hyperpermeability in follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) and villus epithelium (VE) of patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and in noninflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-controls. Further, we studied mechanisms of β-glucan uptake and effects on MCs in vitro.

Methods: Segments of FAE and VE from 8 CD patients and 9 controls were mounted in Ussing chambers. Effects of the MC-degranulator compound 48/80 (C48/80) and yeast-derived β-1,3/1,6 glucan on hyperpermeability were investigated. Translocation of β-glucan and colocalization with immune cells were studied by immunofluorescence. Caco-2-cl1- and FAE-cultures were used to investigate β-glucan-uptake using endocytosis inhibitors and HMC-1.1 to study effects on MCs.

Results: β-glucan significantly attenuated MC-induced paracellular hyperpermeability in CD and controls. Transcellular hyperpermeability was only significantly attenuated in VE. Baseline paracellular permeability was higher in FAE than VE in both groups, P<0.05, and exhibited a more pronounced effect by C48/80 and β-glucan P<0.05. No difference was observed between CD and controls. In vitro studies showed increased passage, P<0.05, of β-glucan through FAE-culture compared to Caco-2-cl1. Passage was mildly attenuated by the inhibitor methyl-β-cyclodextrin. HMC-1.1 experiments showed a trend to decreasing MC-degranulation and levels of TNF-α but not IL-6 by β-glucan. Immunofluorescence revealed more β-glucan-uptake and higher percentage of macrophages and dendritic cells close to β-glucan in VE of CD compared to controls.

Conclusions: We demonstrated beneficial effects of β-glucan on intestinal barrier function and increased β-glucan-passage through FAE model. Our results provide important and novel knowledge on possible applications of β-glucan in health disorders and diseases characterized by intestinal barrier dysfunction.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; intestinal permeability; β-glucan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism
  • Crohn Disease / prevention & control*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ileum / drug effects
  • Ileum / immunology
  • Ileum / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / drug effects
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Young Adult
  • beta-Glucans / administration & dosage*


  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fiber
  • beta-Glucans