As one of the PhDs employed within the CCC-TKI CarboHealth programme, Fangjie Gu defended her thesis on January 26th at Wageningen University. With a close collaboration with her colleague Klaudyna Borewicz, who was also employed within CarboHealth, Fangjie explored the metabolization of indigestible carbohydrates, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and isomalto/maltopolysaccharides (IMMPs), by infant or adult gut microbiota using in vivo or in vitro study approaches.
Fangjie found inter-individual variations of not only in HMO synthesis by mothers, but also in their metabolism by infant gut microbiota during the first three months of life. Furthermore, HMOs with different structural elements were differentially consumed when passing through the infant gut. Structure-specific prebiotic effects were also demonstrated by in vitro fermentation of IMMPs. These findings provide valuable evidence for researchers and industry to identify functional structures of prebiotics for humans at different developmental stages.