Absorption and biological activity of phytochemical-rich extracts from açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp and oil in vitro

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 28;56(10):3593-600. doi: 10.1021/jf8001608. Epub 2008 Apr 29.


Polyphenolic extracts from various fruits and vegetables have been shown to exert growth inhibitory effects in cell culture studies. Whereas individual polyphenolic compounds have been extensively evaluated, understanding of the biological activity of polyphenolic extracts from natural sources is limited and critical to the understanding of their potential effects on the human body. This study investigated the absorption and antiproliferative effects of phytochemical extracts from acai pulp and a polyphenolic-enriched acai oil obtained from the fruit pulp of the acai berry ( Euterpe oleracea Mart.). Chemical composition, antioxidant properties, and polyphenolic absorption of phytochemical fractions in a Caco-2 monolayer were determined, along with their cytotoxicity in HT-29 human colon adenocarcinoma cells. Standardized extracts were characterized by their predominance of hydroxybenzoic acids, monomeric flavan-3-ols, and procyanidin dimers and trimers. Polyphenolic mixtures (0-12 microg of gallic acid equiv/mL) from both acai pulp and acai oil extracts inhibited cell proliferation by up to 90.7%, which was accompanied by an increase of up to 2.1-fold in reactive oxygen species. Absorption experiments using a Caco-2 intestinal cell monolayer demonstrated that phenolic acids such as p-hydroxybenzoic, vanillic, syringic, and ferulic acids, in the presence of DMSO, were readily transported from the apical to the basolateral side along with monomeric flavanols such as (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin. Results from this study provide further evidence for the bioactive properties of acai polyphenolics and offer new insight on their composition and cellular absorption.

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Arecaceae / chemistry*
  • Biological Transport
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species