Extra virgin olive oil and related by-products (Olea europaea L.) as natural sources of phenolic compounds for abdominal pain relief in gastrointestinal disorders in rats

Food Funct. 2020 Dec 1;11(12):10423-10435. doi: 10.1039/d0fo02293d. Epub 2020 Nov 25.


Management of abdominal pain, a common symptom of IBDs and IBS, is still a clinical problem. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a main component of the Mediterranean diet, shows positive effects on chronic inflammation in IBDs. In this study, the effect of the oral administration of EVOO (3 mL) and two olive milling by-products, DPA (300 mg kg-1) and DRF (300 mg kg-1), on preventing the development of abdominal pain in a DNBS-induced colitis model in rats was evaluated. The doses were chosen with the aim of simulating a plausible daily intake in humans. DPA and EVOO treatments significantly reduced the abdominal viscero-motor response to colon-rectal distension at 2 and 3 mL of balloon distension volume, both 7 and 14 days after the DNBS-injection. DRF showed efficacy in the reduction of visceral hypersensitivity only with 3 mL balloon inflation. In awake animals, DPA and DRF reduced pain perception (evaluated as abdominal withdrawal reflex) with all balloon distension volumes, while EVOO was effective only with higher distension volumes. Fourteen days after the DNBS-injection, all samples reduced the macroscopic intestinal damage (quantified as the macroscopic damage score) also showing, at the microscopic level, a reduction of the inflammatory infiltrate (quantified by hematoxylin and eosin analysis), fibrosis (highlighted by picrosirius red staining), the increase in mast cells and their degranulation (analyzed by triptase immunohistochemistry). This is the first report on the promotion of abdominal pain relief in a rat model obtained administering EVOO and two derived by-products. Our results suggest a protective role of phenol-rich EVOO and milling by-products, which may be proposed as food ingredients for novel functional foods.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / drug therapy
  • Colon / pathology
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene / adverse effects
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene / analogs & derivatives
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Functional Food
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Olea / chemistry*
  • Olive Oil / chemistry
  • Olive Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Olive Oil
  • Phenols
  • Plant Oils
  • 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene sulfonic acid
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene