Changes in Intestinal Permeability Ex Vivo and Immune Cell Activation by Three Commonly Used Emulsifiers

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Food additives such as emulsifiers are used in increasing quantities in the food industry. The aim of this study was to compare three different emulsifiers (polysorbate 80 (P80), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), and β-lactoglobulin (β-lac) with regards to their effect on the stimulation of immune cells and intestinal permeability. The immune stimulatory effects were studied in the myeloid cell line MUTZ-3-cells, while the change in intestinal permeability was studied in the Caco-2 cell line and ex vivo in the Ussing chamber system using small intestinal fragments from rats. The tested concentrations of the emulsifiers ranged from 0.02% up to 1%, which are concentrations commonly used in the food industry. The results showed that P80 affected both the myeloid cells and the intestinal permeability more than CMC (p < 0.05) and β-lac (p < 0.05) at the highest concentration. CMC was found to neither affect the permeability in the intestine nor the MUTZ-3 cells, while β-lac changed the permeability in the total part of the small intestine in rats. These findings indicate that P80 might be more cytotoxic compared to the other two emulsifiers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5943
JournalMolecules (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Immunology in the medical area

Free keywords

  • beta-lactoglobulin
  • caco-2
  • carboxymethyl cellulose
  • dendritic cell activation
  • food emulsifiers
  • intestinal permeability
  • polysorbate 80
  • TEER
  • ussing chambers


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