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Open Access Research

In vitro digestion and lactase treatment influence uptake of quercetin and quercetin glucoside by the Caco-2 cell monolayer

Jeanelle Boyer1, Dan Brown12 and Rui Hai Liu23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-7201, USA

2 Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-7201, USA

3 Department of Food Science, Stocking Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7201, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2005, 4:1  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-1

Published: 11 January 2005

Abstract

Background

Quercetin and quercetin glycosides are widely consumed flavonoids found in many fruits and vegetables. These compounds have a wide range of potential health benefits, and understanding the bioavailability of flavonoids from foods is becoming increasingly important.

Methods

This study combined an in vitro digestion, a lactase treatment and the Caco-2 cell model to examine quercetin and quercetin glucoside uptake from shallot and apple homogenates.

Results

The in vitro digestion alone significantly decreased quercetin aglycone recovery from the shallot digestate (p < 0.05), but had no significant effect on quercetin-3-glucoside recovery (p > 0.05). Digestion increased the Caco-2 cell uptake of shallot quercetin-4'-glucoside by 2-fold when compared to the non-digested shallot. Despite the loss of quercetin from the digested shallot, the bioavailability of quercetin aglycone to the Caco-2 cells was the same in both the digested and non-digested shallot. Treatment with lactase increased quercetin recovery from the shallot digestate nearly 10-fold and decreased quercetin-4'-glucoside recovery by more than 100-fold (p < 0.05), but had no effect on quercetin recovery from apple digestates. Lactase treatment also increased shallot quercetin bioavailability to the Caco-2 cells approximately 14-fold, and decreased shallot quercetin-4'-glucoside bioavailability 23-fold (p < 0.05). These Caco-2 cells had lactase activity similar to that expressed by a lactose intolerant human.

Conclusions

The increase in quercetin uptake following treatment with lactase suggests that dietary supplementation with lactase may increase quercetin bioavailability in lactose intolerant humans. Combining the digestion, the lactase treatment and the Caco-2 cell culture model may provide a reliable in vitro model for examining flavonoid glucoside bioavailability from foods.