Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Abby D. Benninghoff


Abby D. Benninghoff


Korry J. Hintze


Heloisa M. Rutigliano


Chronic inflammation increases the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, including cancer. The risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC) specifically is increased in individuals who suffer from colitis. Diet is another risk factor for developing CRC, particularly a Western-type diet. Thus, supplementing a Western diet with functional foods containing anti-inflammatory polyphenols is a potential approach to decreasing CRC risk by reducing gut inflammation and altering the composition of the gut microbiome. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of cocoa polyphenol (CP) supplementation on inflammation status and microbiome profile before, during, and after colitis when fed in the context of a healthy diet or a Western diet in a mouse model of colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC). We hypothesized that mice fed a Western diet would experience greater colon inflammation than mice consuming a healthy rodent diet and that this effect would be attenuated when a Western diet is supplemented with cocoa flavanols. We further hypothesized that mice fed the cocoa-supplemented diet would have a differentiated microbiome profile than mice eating a Western diet alone. In this study, we used CocoaVia™ Cardio Health Powder, a polyphenol-enriched supplement, to achieve a high number of polyphenols in the diet. This experiment involved four experimental groups: one that was fed the AIN93G healthy rodent diet, one that was fed AIN supplemented with 2.6% CocoaVia™ powder, one that was fed the total Western diet (TWD), and one that was fed TWD supplemented with 2.6% CocoaVia™ powder. We found that dietary CP supplementation did not decrease inflammation in either a healthy or Western dietary context. Consumption of CP significantly altered the fecal microbiome profile of these mice before the development of colitis and continued to affect the abundance of some rare groups of bacteria during and after colitis. It was evident in this experiment that basal diet was the driving factor in promoting inflammation, mucosal damage, and symptoms of colitis in this model.



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