Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Spurlock


Intestinal health and the maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier are critical to maintaining overall health. Research conducted over the years has consistently shown an unhealthy gut is detrimental to one's overall well-being and is associated with a number of disease states including obesity, autism, Inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune disorders. Chronic intestinal inflammation is an innate immune response that can disrupt the intestinal barrier causing it to become leaky and leaving the host susceptible to a plethora of environmental pathogens. Inflammation is also an energy draining physiological process which also causes health complications.

Consumption of nonstarch polysaccharides, such as the guar gum containing beta-galactomannan, have been shown to stimulate the innate immune response characterized by high levels of inflammatory cytokines. In livestock, studies have regularly shown the negative side effects of soybean meal & beta-galactomannan on health and immune function including impaired nutrient absorption, stunted growth, and inflammation. In vivo studies have also elucidated the immunostimulatory effects of mannans. Gums containing beta-galactomannan are commonly used as thickeners, stabilizers, and binders in food industry. Therefore, it is essential to elucidate the extent of inflammation beta-galactomannan may cause in order to protect the health of consumers.

Our study was conducted to further characterize the impact of guar gum derived beta-galactomannan on health and immune status in Sprague-Dawley rats. As expected, rats fed beta-galactomannan, on average, gained less weight throughout the course of the study compared to control rats and also consumed less. These effects, however, were not accompanied by an increased inflammatory cytokine mRNA profile. Beta-galactomannan consumption did not affect inflammatory cytokines IL-12a, IL-12b, or IL-6 nor did it affect the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in the ileum. Even more perplexing was that in the jejunum, beta-galactomannan increased IL-10 mRNA transcript abundance and decreased IL-12a mRNA levels. Based on our experiment, beta-galactomannan did not stimulate an innate immune response.


Copyright Owner

LeeAnn Schalinske



File Format


File Size

61 pages