Gut microbial metabolites
There are trillions of microorganisms in the human intestinal tract, which break down foods that the host cannot metabolize to produce important nutrients and physiologically active substances such as lactic acid, acetic acid, amino acids, and vitamins. These metabolites are called “postbiotics” and play an important role in host homeostasis. Among them, we are focusing our research on metabolites of lipids and carbohydrates. Regarding lipids, we are constructing an original compound library of lipid metabolites produced by microorganisms with the goal of establishing a new ‘therapeutic platform’. With regard to carbohydrates, we are pursuing research to purify and clarify the functionality exopolysaccharide (EPS), an indigestible dietary fiber produced by microorganisms.
HYA® – lipid metabolite produced by gut microorganisms
HYA (10-hydroxy-cis-12-octadecanoic acid) is a functional fatty acid produced by metabolism of linoleic acid—a major component of vegetable oils—by gut microorganisms, and has various physiological activities such as an action to prevent obesity and improve insulin resistance, and protection of the intestinal tract. Gut microorganisms use food-derived lipids to produce HYA in the intestine, and its presence has been confirmed in cheese, pickles, and Japanese “miso”. Despite knowledge about its presence, to-date, little is known about the functions of HYA. We are collaborating with academia to conduct research on gut microorganism-derived lipid metabolites such as HYA to develop new functional materials.
LEUCOSACCHARIDE® – an indigestible dietary fiber
Leucosaccharide is an exopolysaccharide produced by Leuconostoc mesenteroides , one microorganism from our library, and is a special indigestible dietary fiber derived from gut microorganisms produced by assimilating sucrose. So far, it has been confirmed that it promotes the secretion of IgA antibodies that enhance the immunity of the intestinal mucosa and reduces symptoms of chronic skin disease known as “psoriasis”. In addition, compared to other dietary fibers, it has the function of producing large amounts of short-chain fatty acids in the intestine, and has also been found to suppress increases in weight. Furthermore, to enhance immunity, leucosaccharides may lead to the prevention of diseases associated with lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, and we are pursuing research and development on their use as new functional materials.