Researchers at Penn State University found that adding soy protein to the diet can alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, such as colon inflammation and loss of gut barrier function. Studies in mice pave the way for research to develop therapeutic strategies against the disease in humans.
Researchers from Penn State, Zachary Bitzer and Amy Wopperer, former graduate students in the school’s Department of Food Science, collaborated with Joshua Lambert, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and colleagues on the study.
The research team published its latest findings in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
In the United States, an estimated 3.1 million adults suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Finding ways to relieve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is important because the chronic inflammation that characterizes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a major risk factor for colon cancer. Inflammation of the colon also leads to loss of intestinal barrier function and increased intestinal permeability.
In this latest study, the Penn State team investigated the effects of soy protein concentrate on inflammation and intestinal barrier function in mice. They replaced 12% of other sources of protein in the experimental mice’s diet with soy protein concentrate. Soy protein concentrate is substituted in an amount equivalent to what a human might consume.
“We didn’t want to rule out all the other proteins by adding soy protein,” Bitzer said. “Instead, we wanted to find a scenario that was more relevant to human feeding.”
Researchers have found that soy protein concentrate has antioxidant and cytoprotective effects on human intestinal cells grown in the laboratory. Furthermore, replacing only 12 percent of other proteins with soy protein concentrate was sufficient to prevent weight loss and improve spleen swelling in mice with induced IBD. This evidence suggests that soy protein concentrate may be able to reduce the severity of inflammation.
“Soy protein concentrate attenuates markers associated with colonic inflammation and loss of gut barrier function in induced IBD mice.”