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Universidad de La Rioja


Mª Lourdes Sánchez

Universidad de Zaragoza

Gladys Mirey

INRAE, UMR 1331 TOXALIM (Research Centre in Food Toxicology)

Gautier Zunquin

Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour

Joanna Szpunar

CNRS, Institute of Analytical Sciences and Physico-Chemistry for Environment and Materials (IPREM), UMR 5254 (CNRS-UPPA)

Claude Jamrozik


Goyo Sanzol


François Paul



Functional foods are those that besides nutritional properties can have a specific function on humans and animals, like improving health or reducing the risk of getting an illness. Dairy products and foods from vegetal origin are the most relevant, with potential antioxidant, prebiotic and probiotic activities. The study of the benefits that can add functional products are focused on the effect on: early development and child growth, health care, health and wellbeing of elderly people, reduction of obesity risk, and reduction of the risk of chronic illnesses related with diet.

The study of milk bioactive components has increased in the last decades with the objective to know their influence on the development of tissues and the establishment of physiological functions of the neonate, and also with the final objective of using those components as ingredients in foods and feed with a functional value. Among milk proteins, there is an important group with protective activities against pathogens: immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, milk fat globule proteins (lactadherin, mucin), etc. These components could be isolated from by-products derived from the dairy industry.

As for foods from vegetal origin, rich in antioxidant compounds or with activity on bacterial growth, great interest has arisen on the phenolic compounds from grapes with effect on: plasma lipids, platelets, inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress. Nowadays, new applications are explored of those components in food manufacture, nutritive supplements, additives, nutraceutical products and cosmetics. The phenolic compounds can be obtained from grapes skin, cell debris from pulp, stalks and pips.

Fermented food products have also great potential to prevent diseases and improving health, therefore, it is necessary to study the effect that they can exert on the intestine, by interacting with the microbiota and having a beneficial influence on the gastrointestinal, immune and neurobiological system.

The intestine has an important role as a barrier against microorganisms and molecules that reach the gastrointestinal tract. The intestine is colonized by a dense microbial community called commensal microbiota, involved in maintaining the intestinal homeostasis and in the defense against pathogenic agents. In fact, the host-microbiota dysfunction drives to intestinal inflammatory pathologies. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and unclassified IBD, continues to cause significant morbidity. Recent findings suggest that IBD may have a multifactorial etiology, where complex interactions between genetics, environmental factors, and host immune system lead to abnormal immune responses and chronic inflammation. According to new findings, gut dysbiosis may appear as a key element in initiation of inflammation in IBD and its complications. Options to manipulate the altered microbiota, such as modified diet, probiotics, prebiotics or symbiotics have been proposed as possible therapies for IBD.

The use of antibiotics could affect in an important way to the equilibrium of the intestinal microbiota, either causing changes in the proportion of microbial groups or selecting for antimicrobial resistant bacteria. Bioactive compounds could be an important alternative to restore the intestinal homeostasis and to reduce the need of antibiotics and their adverse effects. It is of the general knowledge that the Security Feed is a subject more and more important in the area of the Public Health. Since the prohibition of antibiotics as growth promoters in the animal feed since January of 2006 that has coming it try to find alternatives to the use of antibiotics. In this way, the use of bacteriocins or bacteriocin-producer bacteria as probiotic substances capable of inhibit the growth of other bacteria, has arisen like an option. The lactic bacteria, producers of these substances and with interest in the industry feed, have been isolated of dairy products, as well as of meat and fish.

Another chronic digestive disorder namely irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is one of the most common functional gastrointestinal diseases affecting up to 15% of adults in the general Western population, causing significant morbidity, with impaired quality of life. Recent meta analyses highlight a global beneficial effect of probiotics use in the management of this pathology, but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. These data underline here again that modulation of the microbiota by pre-probiotics can be proposed as possible adjuvant therapies in IBS.

The aim of the groups participating in this aCCeSS proposal will be to develop a group to find for funding in order to study the influence of consumption of human and animal diets containing bioactive components derived from foods (fruits, dairy products, bread elaborated with sourdough) on several parameters of intestinal health (intestinal permeability, microbiota composition, immune response and intestinal inflammation) by using mouse models and representative bacteria. In this consortia several research groups will participate with expertise in bioactive food components (antimicrobials and antioxidants), in intestinal pathophysiology, in characterization of human and murine intestinal microbiome, in murine models with inflammatory processes and colorectal cancer and in characterization of antibiotic resistant bacteria and probiotics in humans and animals.

The idea is to analyze the influence of the nutritional components previously described, on the microbiota and also the overall influence on health by the study of intestinal pathophysiology. As a physiological model we will have available mice at different ages and as a pathological model we will have mice with chronic intestinal inflammation (ulcerative colitis) and mice models of colorectal cancer. We will work also with mice that show suppression in some genes related with the response of microbiota.


The use of natural compounds for their use in functional products can improve health of people and animal, as well, and add more value to certain co-products and by-products derived from the industrial processing of foods. It is necessary to know the characteristics of these compounds to evaluate the best procedures for their isolation, maintaining their maximum biological activity. Furthermore, is necessary to know the effect of these bioactive compounds on human and animal health, to evaluate the possibility to develop marketable functional products containing them.


The aim of this consortium will be to collaborate in the study of the influence on human and animals diets containing bioactive components derived from foods (mainly fruits, dairy products) on several parameters of intestinal health (intestinal permeability, microbiota composition, immune response and intestinal inflammation) by using mouse models, representative bacteria and special human populations and production animals. In this consortium several research groups will participate with expertise in isolation and characterization of bioactive food components (antimicrobials and antioxidants), in characterization of antibiotic resistant bacteria, in intestinal pathophysiology, in characterization of human and murine intestinal microbiome, in murine models with inflammatory processes, in probiotics in humans and animals.

It should be noted that bacterial resistance to antimicrobials is a serious threat, not only of a human and animal clinical nature, but is also a public health and food safety problem. The dissemination and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance bacteria in different ecological niches is one of WHO’s main challenges. In this sense, the consortium will contribute directly to regional, national and European strategies that consider human health as a main strategic priority.

The objective of this project is to establish an exchange of ideas among the partners and to join efforts in order to design a research project competitive enough to participate in calls of European programs to get funding for its development. The objectives of the future projects will involve, among others, the following activities:


1. Study of the bioactive components from foods (mainly dairy products and products from vegetal origin).

1.1. Establishment of methods for isolation and characterization of food bioactive components (milk, grapes, olives).

1.2. Evaluation of in vitro activity of bioactive components: antioxidant, modulation of immune system, antibacterial, etc.

1.3. Characterization of bioactive components of interest at chemical and molecular level.

1.4. Effect of technological processing on the activity of bioactive components.

2. Study of the effect of bioactive food components on intestinal microbiota in healthy mouse models and models with pathological processes. The following parameters will be analyzed in intestinal tissues:

2.1. Composition of microbiota.

2.2. Molecular expression of receptors that response to microbiota and regulatory systems of intestinal mucosa.

2.3. Intestinal motor activity.

2.4. Permeability of intestinal epithelia.

2.5. Development of intestinal neuronal tissue.

3. Evaluation of the applicability of the bioactive compounds as ingredients products for human nutrition and animal feeding in order to improve global health.


The consortium will be based on the idea of a platform for collaboration and exchange of knowledge between the research groups and companies and it will focus on different lines of action if funding from Europe is obtained:

  • Reinforcement of cooperation between the different actors in the territory on both sides of the border in terms of R & D & i.
  • Collaborative research between groups
  • Exchange of personnel and samples
  • Publications derived from collaborative research
  • Transfer of knowledge to industries