Effects of human oral mucosal tissue, saliva, and oral microflora on intraoral metabolism and bioactivation of black raspberry anthocyanins

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Aug;4(8):1209-21. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0040. Epub 2011 May 10.


Our oral cancer chemoprevention trial data implied that patient-specific differences in local retention and metabolism of freeze-dried components of black raspberries (BRB) affected therapeutic responsiveness. Subsequent studies have confirmed that anthocyanins are key contributors to BRB's chemopreventive effects. Consequently, functional assays, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemical analyses to evaluate levels and distribution of BRB anthocyanin-relevant metabolic enzymes in human oral tissues were conducted. Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS) analyses of time course saliva samples collected following BRB rinses were conducted to assess local pharmacokinetics and compare the capacities of three different BRB rinse formulations to provide sustained intraoral levels of anthocyanins. Protein profiles showed the presence of key metabolic enzymes in all 15 oral mucosal tissues evaluated, whereas immunohistochemistry confirmed these enzymes were distributed within surface oral epithelia and terminal salivary ducts. β-Glucosidase assays confirmed that whole and microflora-reduced saliva can deglycosylate BRB anthocyanins, enabling generation of the bioactive aglycone, cyanidin. LC/MS-MS analyses showed retention of parent anthocyanins and their functional, stable metabolite, protocatechuic acid, in saliva for up to 4 hours after rinsing. Furthermore, postrinse saliva samples contained glucuronidated anthocyanin conjugates, consistent with intracellular uptake and phase II conversion of BRB anthocyanins into forms amenable to local recycling. Our data show that comparable to the small intestine, the requisite hydrolytic, phase II and efflux transporting enzymes necessary for local enteric recycling are present and functional in human oral mucosa. Notably, interpatient differences in anthocyanin bioactivation and capacities for enteric recycling would impact treatment as retention of bioactivated chemopreventives at the target site would sustain therapeutic effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthocyanins / chemistry
  • Anthocyanins / metabolism*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Doxorubicin / analogs & derivatives
  • Doxorubicin / chemistry
  • Fruit
  • Glucuronides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Chemical
  • Mouth Mucosa / drug effects
  • Mouth Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology*
  • Saliva / metabolism*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Glucuronides
  • 7-deoxy-13-dihydroadriamycinone
  • cyanidin
  • Doxorubicin