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3.8 Deciphering host-microbial interactions for cardiometabolic and mental health disorders with novel multimodal light-based sensing tools

Principal Investigators

Denis Boudreau, André Marette


Olivier Barbier, Frédéric Calon, Daniel Côté, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Patrick Mathieu, Younès Messaddeq, Denis Richard, Denis Roy, Denis Soulet, Réal Vallée


Mohsen Agharazii, Jacques Corbeil, Yves Desjardins, Nicolas Flamand, Mélanie Lemire, Connie Lovejoy, Anna Ritcey, Warwick Vincent

Collaborators outside U. Laval

Patrice Cani (Belgique), Emile Levy (CHU Sainte-Justine)

Project summary

Obesity, cardiometabolic diseases (CMD) and mental health disorders (MHD) are major public health issues among indigenous populations in the Canadian North. It is hypothesized that exposure to various environmental factors, known as the “exposome”, that include changes from a traditional to a more western-type diet, is causing perturbations in the gut microbiome, which may provide a common pathogenic link for the increased prevalence of CMD and MHD in these populations. This new understanding is causing a revolution in the medical field, which is in urgent need of better predictive biomarkers (sentinels) to establish a rapid and efficient diagnostic for these prevalent diseases. We have assembled a new transdisciplinary team of experienced scientists at Université Laval that will transcend the usual academic boundaries and, working together with other prestigious academic institutions and industrial partners, develop and validate new “Sensor-in-Fiber” optical probes using latest advances in fiber optics and photonic materials. These revolutionary opto-microbiomic tools will be implanted in the gastro-intestinal tract of well-established mouse models of CMD and MHD for in situ and simultaneous detection of key microbiome-derived molecules with unsurpassed sensitivity and high spatial and temporal resolution.

These novel monitoring tools will allow, for the first time, the sensitive and real-time analysis of the gut microbiota in vivo, leading to the identification of novel microbiome-derived biomarkers and biological targets for a better understanding of the relationship between the exposome and the developmental trajectory of CMD and MHD.

The main outcomes of this project are

1) the unprecedented ability to monitor in situ and in realtime potentially novel microbiome-derived biomarkers of CMD and MHD diseases that are relevant to Northern communities, and

2) the discovery of new microbiome mechanisms underlying the health effects of wild berry polyphenols and fish ω3 fatty acids that are traditionally consumed in the North.