BN group

Bioactivity and Nutrition group

The structure of food is an important parameter that can modulate the digestion of food and therefore its nutritional and biological value. This is all the more important when dealing with specific populations (infants, the elderly, etc.). It is thus important to better understand the mechanisms of food digestion to better predict their impact on the body.


Tel : 02 23 48 56 94





Tel : 02 23 48 53 35



Our objectives

The "Bioactivity & Nutrition" team is interested in the mechanisms of food digestion, and more particularly in:

  • Understanding the deconstruction of dairy, egg and mixed animal-vegetable products in the gastrointestinal tract and evaluating their nutritional qualities
  • Identify the release of bioactive molecules (beneficial or deleterious) during digestion
  • Determine the consequences on human health

These aspects are essential to enable the design of multifunctional food matrices that meet targeted nutritional objectives.



Our strategies

In vitro approaches:

  • Static & semi-dynamic digestions to screen between various food formulations, study enzymatic mechanisms, evaluate final digestibility, conduct investigations with in situ monitoring by MRI, Synchrotron, etc.
  • Computer-controlled dynamic digesters that reproduce the flows (secretions, transit, etc.) observed in vivo:
    • 2 DIDGI (1 equipped with membrane filtration)
    • 1 NERD-T (which mimics the biomechanics of the digestive tract)
  • Cellular models of the intestinal wall to study nutrient absorption

In vivo approaches: Pre-clinical and clinical studies.

In silico approaches: Mathematical modelling of the mechanisms.

Different populations considered: Infants, healthy adults, elderly...

Our expertise

Our expertise covers the following disciplines:

  • Food science
  • Protein and lipid biochemistry
  • Digestive physiology
  • Human nutrition
  • Physical chemistry and biophysics

In addition to our digestion simulators, the team has a multitude of investigation means at its disposal to monitor food digestion:

  • Analysis of hydrolysis products :
    • Proteolysis: peptidomics by LC-MS, amino acids by ion exchange chromatography, SDS-PAGE, primary amines by OPA...
    • Lipolysis: different classes of lipids by GC-MS, GC, HPLC, TLC...
    • Amylolysis: oligosaccharides and released sugars by HPLC, UV kits...
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Rheology
  • Mathematical modelling

Our team


Technician/Assistant engineer : Séverine CHEVALIER, Gwénaële HENRY,  Yann LE GOUAR

Engineer: Marie-Françoise COCHET, Julien JARDIN, Olivia MÉNARD, Jordane OSSEMOND

Scientists : Amélie DEGLAIRE, Didier DUPONT, Catherine GUÉRIN, Steven LE FEUNTEUN, Vincent MATHIEU, Martine MORZEL, Françoise NAU, Frédérique PEDRONO

Fixed-term contracts/PhD students/Post-doc : Lucile CHAUVET, Ruoxuan Deng, Jiajun FENG, Lison JOLY, Anaïs LAVOISIER, Rozenn LE FOLL, Vibhu MISHRA, Alizé MOUCHARD


INFOGEST: An international research network (a former COST Action : 2011-2015) whose objective is to improve health properties of food by sharing the knowledge on the digestive process. Altogether, INFOGEST gathers more than 715 scientists from 250 institutes in 56 countries in Europe but also USA, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand etc. Click here for more information

TRYPTIF: Human milk vs. infant formula: protein digestibility and impact on the microbiota-gut-brain axis - Thesis cofounded by l’Institut Agro Rennes-Angers and the Brittany Region, conducted in collaboration with the Numecan Institute (Rennes, France) and the Riddet Institute (New Zealand)

ENCAPSDHA: Encapsulation of DHA with whey proteins: Impact on DHA digestion in vitro and its metabolism to oxylipin derivatives and endocannabinoids in vivo. Thesis funded by a CSC grant.

LETSPROSEED: In this project, funded by ANR and lead by UMR Agroécologie (Dijon, France), we are in charge of the WP on Salivary protein-polyphenol complexes: interactions, fate during in vitro digestion and impact of digestates on the mucin layer lining the intestinal epithelium (mixed Caco2/HT29-MTX cell cultures). This task is performed in collaboration with UMR CSGA (Dijon, France) and UR BIA (Team Polyphénols, Réactivité, Procédés, Le Rheu, France).

DELICE: In vitro digestions of model meals monitored by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – A 2 year postdoctoral project co-funded by Europe (Marie-Sklodowska-Curie) and the Brittany Region, conducted in collaboration with the UR OPAALE (Rennes, France).

In this folder

Studies on egg white, particularly on lysozyme and ovotransferrin, all demonstrate activities against bacterial membranes from many bacteria groups. We studied how lysozyme acts on bacteria membranes.
Human milk is preferentially fed to very low birth weight infants. When mother’s milk is not available, human milk from milk bank can be administered after pasteurization. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of the technological treatments on the digestive behaviour of human milk.
Faced with the development of food-related chronic diseases, the scientific community concentrates on understanding the digestion process, taking into account food in all its aspects and complexity. Especially, the issue of food structure influence on nutrient bioavailability is addressed.
The objective of our research was to design foods that fit the nutritional and sensory needs of senior citizens to help keep them in good health and fend off risks like sarcopenia (muscle wasting) and osteoporosis. We also had a wider goal to help them keep enjoying meals, as with advancing age, fading oral health can make adequate food intake difficult or even painful.
Infant formula is the most adequate substitute to human milk; however, although these two infant foods are close in terms of macronutrient content, their fine composition and structure still differ, particularly regarding proteins.

Modification date: 15 April 2024 | Publication date: 25 October 2022 | By: stlo