Transepithelial transport of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and their colonic metabolites in intestinal caco-2 cell monolayers

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 May 5;52(9):2518-26. doi: 10.1021/jf035407c.


Both chlorogenic and caffeic acids exhibited nonsaturable transport in Caco-2 cells, whereas caffeic acid also showed proton-coupled polarized absorption. Thus, the absorption efficiency of caffeic acid was greater than that of chlorogenic acid. Polarized transport of caffeic acid was inhibited by substrates of MCT such as benzoic and acetic acids. Almost all of the apically loaded chlorogenic and caffeic acid was retained on the apical side, and the transepithelial flux was inversely correlated with the paracellular permeability of Caco-2 cells. These results indicate that transport was mainly via paracellular diffusion, although caffeic acid was absorbed to a lesser extent by the monocarboxylic acid transporter (MCT). Furthermore, m-coumaric acid and 3-(m-hydroxyphenyl)propionic acid, the main metabolites of chlorogenic and caffeic acid by colonic microflora, competitively inhibited the transport of fluorescein, a known substrate of MCT. This suggests that their absorption could also be mediated by MCT. These findings have exemplified the physiological importance of MCT-mediated absorption in both phenolic acids per se and their colonic metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Caffeic Acids / analysis
  • Caffeic Acids / metabolism*
  • Caffeic Acids / pharmacology
  • Chlorogenic Acid / analysis
  • Chlorogenic Acid / metabolism*
  • Chlorogenic Acid / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Fluorescein / metabolism
  • Humans


  • Caffeic Acids
  • Chlorogenic Acid
  • Fluorescein
  • caffeic acid