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Advantages, Disadvantages and Limitations of the System

The advantage of the SIMGI model is associated to its flexible-modulating characteristics and the automated control of the working parameters that can be adjusted to simulate physiological conditions. The combination of peristaltic movements and controlled emptying of the gastric and small intestine compartments are advantages of the system in comparison to other multicompartmental models. The SIMGI model has not yet incorporated devices simulating the gut microbiota-host interactions. Therefore, assays for evaluating this type of crucial interaction is currently approached by co-culturing colon-region specific microbiota suspensions from the AC, TC and/or DC vessels with epithelial or immune cells. The incubation of this SIMGI complex colonic microbiota with Caco-2 cells has shown not to disturb the epithelial barrier integrity (unpublished results). Moreover, the SIMGI microbiota has demonstrated to induce the phenotypical maturation of human monocytederived dendritic cells (unpublished results). However, a limitation of the SIMGI model is the lack of devices to evaluate the formation of microbial biofilms adhering to the colonic epithelium. The simulation of intestinal absorption to remove end products of microbial metabolism is also a limitation of the system to prevent inhibition of the colon microbiota. Both drawbacks of the system are on the way to be overcome by setting up microbial/mucosa interfaces in the SIMGI lumen and by including dialysis devices between compartments.

In summary, the fully automation of the SIMGI model allows precise control of the environmental parameters that simulate the gastrointestinal tract. This multistage dynamic model has demonstrated to reproduce complex and stable microbial communities and it can be used as a tool for studying the effects of diet or food components on modulating the gut microbiota and its metabolic activity.

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