Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases significantly in individuals who suffer from colitis, which is inflammation of the colon lining, seen in Irritable Bowel Disease. The term “leaky gut” is often used to describe increased intestinal permeability and is closely related to colitis. Leaky gut is associated with dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, which can occur through diet. This dysbiosis leads to prolonged inflammation and affects genes that encode for proteins involved in the tight junctions between cells. Compromised intestinal integrity allows for translocation of material from the lumen of the colon, including bacteria, into the adjacent connective tissues and nearby blood supply. In this study we used the total Western diet, which emulates typical American dietary patterns at both macronutrient and micronutrient levels. Black raspberries (BRB) were used as a dietary supplement to determine if the antiinflammatory (AIN) bioactive chemicals they contain would have a protective effect on the colon epithelium. The objective of this study was to determine how basal diet and supplementation of BRB affects expression of genes involved in intestinal permeability before, during, and after colitis. We hypothesized that expression of genes critical for maintaining the gut barrier and responding to bacteria infiltration would be differentially expressed in mice fed the total Western diet as compared to the AIN healthy diet, and their expression restored when supplemented with BRB. Our results did not show strong responses for any of the examined genes for either basal diet nor black raspberry intervention. There was a high level of variability in our data that may be due to RNA degradation or may reflect true variability in the responses to these interventions.

Included in

Biology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Abby Benninghoff

Departmental Honors Advisor

Sara Freeman