Investigating the role of probiotics in cell death and intestinalbarrier integrity
Our gastro-intestinal tract is colonized by billions of microorganisms that constitute the intestinal flora or microbiota. These microorganisms, primarily bacteria, are required for our development and physiology; however, changes in the "normal" composition of the microbiota, referred to as dysbiosis, have been linked to chronic inflammatory diseases in humans. Currently, a major research effort is to understand what these commensal bacteria are, how they maintain health, and how their dysregulation causes disease. Probiotic bacteria supplementation constitutes an attractive therapeutic strategy for inflammatory diseases and are investigated in this project to understand how they interact with intestinal epithelial cells to regulate barrier integrity. Our specific aim is to interrogate whether a probiotic combination, consisting of three commensal bacterial strains, maintains intestinal barrier function by modulation programmed cell death, specifically, an inflammatory form termed necroptosis. We aim to understand the triggers of intestinal epithelial cell death, how the probiotics regulate its induction and the consequences on inflammation and disease.