Polyphenols of virgin coconut oil prevent pro-oxidant mediated cell death

Toxicol Mech Methods. 2017 Jul;27(6):442-450. doi: 10.1080/15376516.2017.1320458. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


Virgin coconut oil (VCO), extracted from the fresh coconut kernel, is a food supplement enriched with medium chain saturated fatty acids and polyphenolic antioxidants. It is reported to have several health benefits including lipid lowering, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. The pharmacological benefits of VCO have been attributed to its polyphenol content (VCOP), the mechanistic basis of which is less explored. Liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy (LC/MS) analysis of VCOP documented the presence of gallic acid, ferulic acid (FA), quercetin, methyl catechin, dihydrokaempferol and myricetin glycoside. Pre-treatment of VCOP at different concentrations (25-100 μg/mL) significantly reduced the H2O2 and 2,2'-azobis (2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride (AAPH) induced cell death in HCT-15 cells. Giving further insight to its mechanistic basis, oxidative stress induced alterations in glutathione (GSH) levels and activities of GR (Glutathione-Reductase), GPx (Glutathione-Peroxidase), GST (Glutathione-S-Transferase) and catalase (CAT) were restored to near-normal by VCOP, concomitantly reducing lipid peroxidation. The efficacy of VCOP was similar to that of Trolox and FA added in culture. The study thus suggests that VCOP protects cells from pro-oxidant insults by modulating cellular antioxidant status.

Keywords: Antioxidant; colon epithelial cells; free radical; oxidative stress; virgin coconut oil polyphenol.

MeSH terms

  • Amidines / toxicity
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Coconut Oil / chemistry*
  • Cytoprotection
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity
  • Oxidants / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Polyphenols / isolation & purification
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*


  • Amidines
  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidants
  • Polyphenols
  • 2,2'-azobis(2-amidinopropane)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Coconut Oil