Polyphenols and health: what compounds are involved?

Del Rio, D., Costa, L.G., Lean, M.E.J. and Crozier, A. (2010) Polyphenols and health: what compounds are involved? Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 20(1), pp. 1-6. (doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2009.05.015)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2009.05.015


On the basis of prospective, cross-sectional and intervention studies linking polyphenols to human health, several experimental papers in the literature have tried to evaluate the molecular mechanisms involved in their bioactivity. Polyphenols are reported to <i>in vitro</i> inhibit cancer cell proliferation, reduce vascularisation, protect neurons, stimulate vasodilation and improve insulin secretion, but are often studied as aglycones or as sugar conjugates and at non-physiological concentration. However, it is now well established that polyphenols undergo substantial metabolism after being ingested by humans in dietary relevant amount and that concentrations of plasma metabolites after a normal dietary intake rarely exceed nmol/L. This viewpoint intends to highlight that uncritical judgements made on the basis of the published literature, particularly about toxicity and bioactivity, may sometimes have been misled and misleading and to conclude that i) bioavailability values reported in the literature for phenolic compounds should be strongly reconsidered in the light of the large number of newly identified circulating and excreted metabolites, with particular attention to colonic ring-fission products which are obviously contributing much more than expected to the percentage of their absorption; ii) it is phenolic metabolites, formed in the small intestine and hepatic cells, and low molecular weight catabolic products of the colonic microflora to travel around the human body in the circulatory system or reach body tissues to elicit bioactive effects. Understanding these compounds certainly carries interest for drug-discovery but also for dietary prevention of disease.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Polyphenol; bioavailability; catabolism; colonic microflora
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lean, Professor Michael and Crozier, Professor Alan
Authors: Del Rio, D., Costa, L.G., Lean, M.E.J., and Crozier, A.
Subjects:Q Science > QH Natural history > QH345 Biochemistry
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
ISSN (Online):1590-3729
Published Online:26 August 2009

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