Soy Protein May Reduce Inflammatory Bowel Disease Severity

Consumption of soy may mitigate markers of colonic inflammation.

Consuming soy protein may reduce the severity of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a new study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests.

IBD affects nearly 4 million individuals worldwide. Furthermore, it has an economic impact of more than $19 billion per year in the United States alone.

For the study, investigators substituted soy protein concentrate into the diet of mice and removed corresponding amounts of other protein sources to equal approximately 12%.

The 12% dose level of soy protein concentrate was used to ameliorate body weight loss and spleen swelling in mice with induced IBD.

“We didn’t want to get carried away with using doses that were really high and would crowd out all of the other protein that was there,” said co-lead author Zachary Bitzer said. “Instead, we wanted to find a scenario that was going to fit into a more human-relevant situation.”

The results of the study showed that soy protein concentrate mitigates markers of colonic inflammation and loss of gut barrier function in mice with IBD. The concentrate exerts antioxidant and cytoprotective effects in cultured human bowel cells and can moderate the severity of inflammation.

Future follow-up studies will focus on whether the findings in mice are readily translatable to humans, according to the authors.

“Since it is already out there commercially, that makes it more straightforward,” Bitzer said. “But practically speaking, the actual clinical studies are a little bit out of our area of expertise. I think the most likely thing to happen will be for us to try to identify a collaborator either through the Clinical Translational Science Institute on campus or with someone at the Penn State College of Medicine Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.”

The investigators will soon gear up to conduct a related study that would examine whether the inflammation-moderating effects triggered in the colons of mice were solely because of the soy protein or also because of the soy fiber.