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Extreme zooming on intestinal permeability and the western-style diet: unravelling the role of dietary antigens on the prevalence of cardiometabolic and mental health diseases in the north


Principal Investigators

Flavie Lavoie-Cardinal (Psychiatry and neuroscience), Denis Boudreau (Chemistry)


Jacques Corbeil (Molecular medicine), Audrey Durand (Electrical and computer engineering), Christian Gagné (Electrical and computer engineering), André Marette (Médecine), Caroline Ménard (Medicine), Marie-Ève Paquet (Biochemistry, microbiology and bio-informatics)


Jean-François Masson (Université de Montréal), Ilaria Testa (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)


Silicycle and Fruit d’Or, Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers


Our goal is to elucidate the interplay between diet and the prevalence of cardiometabolic and mental health diseases (CMD, MHD) in the Northern population. We will do this by providing answers to these questions:

  • How do changes in diet impact the gut microbiome?
  • How do antigens from this micro-biome cross the gut epithelial barrier?
  • What are the repercussions of these antigens on CMD and MHD?  

To achieve this, we will establish an organ-on-a-chip (OOAC) gut model to investigate the effects of certain dietary components on epithelial permeability in a highly controlled fashion. Importantly, using OOAC models will allow testing of a large number of conditions that would be simply unethical in terms of animal use and extremely expensive to conduct. We will develop precise optical strategies and powerful data analysis strategies based on artificial intelligence to measure the effect of these components and of bacterial antigens on the epithelium barrier. And we will use the knowledge gained to guide studies of their impact on CMD and MHD in murine models. The ability to monitor these changes in situ and in real time in a functioning organ-like model will be transformative in characterizing how intestinal permeability is affected by dietary factors and in return how diet-driven functional changes are correlated with CMD and MHD in the northern population.