INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, vol.16, no.9, pp.21555-21574, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
Anthocyanins from different plant sources have been shown to possess health beneficial effects against a number of chronic diseases. To obtain any influence in a specific tissue or organ, these bioactive compounds must be bioavailable, i.e., effectively absorbed from the gut into the circulation and transferred to the appropriate location within the body while still maintaining their bioactivity. One of the key factors affecting the bioavailability of anthocyanins is their transport through the gut epithelium. The Caco-2 cell line, a human intestinal epithelial cell model derived from a colon carcinoma, has been proven to be a good alternative to animal studies for predicting intestinal absorption of anthocyanins. Studies investigating anthocyanin absorption by Caco-2 cells report very low absorption of these compounds. However, the bioavailability of anthocyanins may be underestimated since the metabolites formed in the course of digestion could be responsible for the health benefits associated with anthocyanins. In this review, we critically discuss recent findings reported on the anthocyanin absorption and metabolism by human intestinal Caco-2 cells.