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Review Paper: The Effects of Dietary Fiber on Asthma through Cytokine Production

Project by Polygence alum Samyuktha

Review Paper: The Effects of Dietary Fiber on Asthma through Cytokine Production

Project's result

I was able to publish my review paper in the Fall 2023 edition of the International Journal of High School Research (IJHSR).

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Asthma is a chronic disease that harms both adults and children, causing symptoms such as debilitating shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and in severe cases, even death. There is no cure for asthma, only therapies that can help control asthma symptoms. One significant, under-examined possibility for a supplement to these therapies is dietary fiber. Dietary fiber, found in various everyday foods including grains, fruits, and vegetables, can maintain gut health and a balanced gut microbiome, which improves the body’s immune system and overall health. This paper will review evidence for the relationships between asthma and dietary fiber - specifically how dietary fiber could be used as a supplementary therapy. One of the byproducts of the fermentation of dietary fiber are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). One significant function of SCFAs is that they can regulate the production of cytokines. This review paper will examine the benefits of dietary fiber on asthma through SCFA production and the resulting decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines; this paper will reveal gaps in knowledge in which clinicians may examine how diet can affect inflammatory diseases like asthma.



Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy


Biology, Neuroscience


Neuroscience, gut-brain axis, mood disorders, autoimmunity, gut microbiome and the immune system




Hello, my name is Samyuktha Natesan, and I completed my Polygence project over the summer of 2021. My project was a review paper about how dietary fiber could be a valuable supplementary therapy for asthma (among other inflammatory conditions) through its specific cytokine production. I was able to publish this paper in the International Journal of High School Research (IJHSR) in fall, 2023! I was able to work with Andrea Merchak, who has been a great resource and mentor even after I finished the publication process in my project.


Dougherty Valley High School

Graduation Year


Project review

“My project experience helps me to this day in my academic accomplishments. The research, drafting, and editing process of writing this review paper taught me how to read, understand, apply, and contribute to scientific literature. This also helped me better understand the conventions and nature of scientific research, and it encouraged me to pursue a career in science. I still use the skills I was able to develop through this project in my college level work today, including finding relevant and trustworthy sources, staying organized, being able to effectively edit my writing, and understanding how to approach a large project of this nature without specific guidance or prompts. This experience was invaluable and helped form how I have engaged, and will continue to engage, with science.”

About my mentor

“My mentor, Andrea, was extremely helpful and supportive throughout this process. She helped me learn common scientific vocabulary, navigate complex scientific literature and databases, find worthy sources, understand the writing and editing process, among so many other important skills. She was always accessible through email and the Polygence platform, and she connected me to resources I still use years later. She even helped me continue and complete the publication process of my review paper for a whole year after my Polygence session ended, on her own time (during her graduate school research and many other responsibilities of her own)! She was a great mentor, teacher, and supporter, and I am extremely grateful to Polygence for connecting me with her.”