Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects the lives of millions of people worldwide due to recurrent, severe symptoms, potential complications, and surgical intervention. The scientific community now defines IBD as a multifactorial disease. An unfavorable constellation of genetic predisposition, harmful environmental and lifestyle factors lead to a disproportion of pathogenic to symbiotic intestinal bacteria (dysbiosis) and disruption of the intestinal barrier. This allows microbial pathogens or products to enter the intestinal submucosa, causing acute, as well as chronic inflammatory responses. Despite this gain in knowledge, IBD treatment still is primarily based on pharmacological immunosuppression. In order to properly address the multi-causality of the disease, complementary therapeutic approaches need to be added to the treatment spectrum.
Preclinical studies show a promising effect of anthocyanin-rich blueberry preparations (Vaccinium myrtillus) on the intestinal microbiome, epithelial barrier, and inflammation in colitis.
This research project will evaluate the effect of freeze-dried blueberry powder in IBD patients with colitis in a three-month prospective controlled observational study. The combination of confocal laser endomicroscopy performed on-site during colonoscopy, the gold standard of functional gut barrier research, primary colon organoid cultures, and molecular biology analyses will allow us to verify the clinical efficacy, as well as the mechanism of action of blueberry therapy on gut barrier function, microbiome, anti-oxidative status, and inflammatory events in colitis patients.