Anthocyanin Absorption and Metabolism by Human Intestinal Caco-2 Cells—A Review

Researchers at Ghent University (BE) have reviewed the literature describing the Caco-2 cell models for testing the bioactive properties of anthocyanins and their beneficial health effects in humans.

The authors concluded that one of the key factors affecting bioavailability of anthocyanins is transport through the gut epithelium. Caco-2 cell line, a human intestinal epithelial cell model derived from a colon carcinoma, is a good alternative to animal studies for predicting intestinal absorption of anthocyanins. However, the impact of stomach and gut microbiota may be under-estimated in such models, which would explain their comparatively low absorption and bioavailability in vivo. To exert a beneficial effect, anthocyanins must be absorbed effectively from the gut into the circulatory system and maintaining their bioactivity.

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  1. Poor reproducibility in vitro,when using Caco-2 cell lines, means standardization (e.g. cell origin, passage number and incubation time) are essential.
  2. Caco-2 models offer a high throughput approach for screening large numbers of samples.
  3. The bioavailability of anthocyanins might be over- or under-estimated since metabolites formed during digestion could be responsible for the health benefits associated with their consumption.