Epicatechin and a cocoa polyphenolic extract modulate gene expression in human Caco-2 cells

J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2509-16. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.10.2509.


We performed a functional genomic analysis to study the effect of epicatechin and polyphenolic cocoa extract in the human colon adenocarcinoma cell line Caco-2. The specific Human Hematology/Immunology cDNA arrays by Clontech, containing 406 genes in duplicate, were used. The differentially expressed genes were classified according to their level of expression, calculated as the ratio of the value obtained after each treatment relative to control cells, with a statistical significance of P < 0.05 (upregulated: ratio > 1.5; downregulated: ratio < 0.6). Treatment with epicatechin decreased the expression of 21 genes and upregulated 24 genes. Upon incubation with the cocoa polyphenolic extract, 24 genes were underexpressed and 28 were overexpressed. The changes in expression for ferritin heavy polypeptide 1 (FTH1), mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MAPKK1), signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), and topoisomerase 1 upon incubation with epicatechin, and for myeloid leukemia factor 2 (MLF2), CCAAT/enhancer binding protein gamma (C/EBPG), MAPKK1, ATP-binding cassette, subfamily c member 1 (MRP1), STAT1, topoisomerase 1, and x-ray repair complementing defective repair 1 (XRCC1) upon incubation with the cocoa polyphenolic extract were validated by RT-PCR. Changes in the messenger RNA levels for MAPKK1, STAT1, MRP1, and topoisomerase 1 upon incubation with either epicatechin or cocoa extract were further confirmed at the protein level by Western blotting. The changes in the expression of STAT1, MAPKK1, MRP1, and FTH1 genes, which are involved in the cellular response to oxidative stress, are in agreement with the antioxidant properties of cocoa flavonoids. In addition, the changes in the expression of C/EBPG, topoisomerase 1, MLF2, and XRCC1 suggest novel mechanisms of action of flavonoids at the molecular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cacao
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Catechin