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Characterization of metabolites of hydroxycinnamates in the in vitro model of human small intestinal epithelium Caco-2 cells

Kern, S.M., Bennett, R.N., Needs, P.W., Mellon, F.A., Kroon, P.A., Garcia-Conesa, M.T.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2003 v.51 no.27 pp. 7884-7891
coumaric acids, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, metabolites, enzyme activity, esterases, metabolism, hexosyltransferases, sulfotransferases, cell lines, intestinal mucosa, small intestine, humans
Hydroxycinnamic acids are antioxidant phenolic compounds which are widespread in plant foods, contribute significantly to total polyphenol intakes, and are absorbed by humans. The extent of their putative health benefit in vivo depends largely on their bioavailability. However, the mechanisms of absorption and metabolism of these phenolic compounds have not been described. In this study, we used the in vitro Caco-2 model of human small intestinal epithelium to investigate the metabolism of the major dietary hydroxycinnamates (ferulate, sinapate, p-coumarate, and caffeate) and of diferulates. The appearance of metabolites in the medium versus time was monitored, and the various conjugates and derivatives produced were identified by HPLC-DAD, LC/MS, and enzyme treatment with β-glucuronidase or sulfatase. Enterocyte-like differentiated Caco-2 cells have extra- and intracellular esterases able to de-esterify hydroxycinnamate and diferulate esters. In addition, intracellular UDP-glucuronosyltransferases and sulfotransferases existing in Caco-2 cells are able to form the sulfate and the glucuronide conjugates of methyl ferulate, methyl sinapate, methyl caffeate, and methyl p-coumarate. However, only the sulfate conjugates of the free acids, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, and p-coumaric acid, were detected after 24 h. The O-methylated derivatives, ferulic and isoferulic acid, were the only metabolites detected following incubation of Caco-2 cells with caffeic acid. These results show that the in vitro model system differentiated Caco-2 cells have the capacity to metabolize dietary hydroxycinnamates, including various phase I (de-esterification) and phase II (glucuronidation, sulfation, and O-methylation) reactions, and suggests that the human small intestinal epithelium plays a role in the metabolism and bioavailability of these phenolic compounds.