CBI-50806 Immunomodulation by Food and Feed


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work36
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. HFJ Savelkoul
prof. dr. HJ Wichers
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. H Smidt
dr. C Belzer
prof. dr. RF Witkamp
prof. dr. ir. HFJ Savelkoul
prof. dr. HJ Wichers
Examiner(s)dr. C Belzer
prof. dr. ir. HFJ Savelkoul
prof. dr. HJ Wichers

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety

Assumed knowledge on:

CBI-10306 Cell Biology; MIB-11306 Microbiology and Biochemistry for Nutrition and Health.

Continuation courses:

CBI-20306 Cell Biology and Health, MIB-30806 Applied Molecular Microbiology


The immune system plays a pivotal part in the maintenance of human and animal health and well-being. Disturbances may lead to over-activity against self-antigens (resulting in auto-immunity), over-activity against harmless environmental antigens (causing allergies), or immune suppression (with impaired resistance against infections and the development of tumours). Immunomodulation offers options to redirect and rebalance the perturbed immune system via food and feed and components that are derived thereof. The interactions between the immune system and food components, and gut microbiota are the central items of this course. The course comprises an overview of underlying mechanisms of immune-related disorders related to disturbed balances in (gut) microbiota and in interaction with specific food components in humans, companion and production animals.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the concept of immunomodulation and its application in the modification and re-directioning of immune-mediated diseases;
- understand selected food components with defined immunological activity, the mechanisms of action of such compounds, and the tools that are necessary and widely used to assess this activity;
- define and memorize the impact of food components on structure-activity relationship of the gut-associated immune system and the gut microbiota;
- apply the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired during the course to formulate research questions relevant to an internship or thesis in the field of interactions between (structure of) food components with immune functioning and structure-function relationships of the gut microbiota;
- critically evaluate research papers and translate these into a concise review.


Attend lectures that are supported by handout lecture material, attend working groups and self-study based on problem oriented education using selected relevant papers. A practical will deal with the tools commonly used to assess the modulatory activity of food components on the immune and microbiota activity.


The exam is composed of a written exam (essay-type questions), which counts for 80% of the final mark. In addition there is a poster-pitch session in which the PGO-outcome will be presented. This counts for 20% of the final mark. Attendance of the practical is compulsory; no marks are given, but issues from the practical can be part of the written exam.


Study guide, reader, selected literature, practical manual.