Beta-glucan supplementation improves gut permeability, which may benefit patients with Crohn’s disease, those with irritable bowel syndrome and chronic bowel inflammation.

Beta-glucans are soluble fibers present in particular in barley and oats, which form a gel in the presence of water. They are already known for their ability to regulate the postprandial glycemic peak, as well as to reduce cholesterol levels by slowing down its intestinal absorption.

From now on, it is on the intestinal permeability that these fibers could exert beneficial effects, which would allow patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, but also people without declared inflammatory disease and yet present to improve their intestinal health.

Intestinal permeability causes several pathologies

Previous studies had already suggested that chronic or acute stress could weaken the intestinal barrier, by degranulating mast cells. This phenomenon is the cause of inflammation. When the intestinal barrier is weakened, it becomes more permeable. An increase in intestinal permeability is thought to be a factor involved in various pathologies, including obesity.

The researchers wish to determine, through this study, whether beta-glucans could attenuate the hyperpermeability induced by mast cells in the follicular epithelium (FAE) and villous epithelium (VE), in patients with Crohn’s disease or healthy. Samples of FAE and VE from 8 patients suffering from Crohn’s disease and 9 “control” subjects were taken, to be exposed to a prebiotic composed of beta-glucans from baker’s yeast.

Improved intestinal hyperpermeability and reduced inflammation

The results showed that beta-glucans:

  • attenuate paracellular hyperpermeability in both groups,
  • decrease the degranulation of mast cells and the production of TNF-alpha, linked to the inflammatory state,
  • reduce the effect of stress on the intestinal epithelium.

This study opens new perspectives to improve intestinal health with beta-glucans


Ganda Mall J et al. : A β-Glucan-Based Dietary Fiber Reduces Mast Cell-Induced Hyperpermeability in Ileum From Patients With Crohn’s Disease and Control Subjects Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 2018; 24(1): 166-178.

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