Effects of Polyphenols on Glucose-Induced Metabolic Changes in Healthy Human Subjects and on Glucose Transporters

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2022 Nov;66(21):e2101113. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202101113. Epub 2022 Apr 6.


Dietary polyphenols interact with glucose transporters in the small intestine and modulate glucose uptake after food or beverage consumption. This review assesses the transporter interaction in vitro and how this translates to an effect in healthy volunteers consuming glucose. As examples, the apple polyphenol phlorizin inhibits sodium-glucose linked transporter-1; in the intestinal lumen, it is converted to phloretin, a strong inhibitor of glucose transporter-2 (GLUT2), by the brush border digestive enzyme lactase. Consequently, an apple extract rich in phlorizin attenuates blood glucose and insulin in healthy volunteers after a glucose challenge. On the other hand, the olive phenolic, oleuropein, inhibits GLUT2, but the strength of the inhibition is not enough to modulate blood glucose after a glucose challenge in healthy volunteers. Multiple metabolic effects and oxidative stresses after glucose consumption include insulin, incretin hormones, fatty acids, amino acids, and protein markers. However, apart from acute postprandial effects on glucose, insulin, and some incretin hormones, very little is known about the acute effects of polyphenols on these glucose-induced secondary effects. In summary, attenuation of the effect of a glucose challenge in vivo is only observed when polyphenols are strong inhibitors of glucose transporters.

Keywords: OGTT; dihydrochalcone; flavonoid; insulin; post prandial; sugar.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Glucose* / metabolism
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Incretins
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Phlorhizin / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols* / chemistry
  • Polyphenols* / pharmacology


  • Polyphenols
  • Glucose
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Incretins
  • Phlorhizin
  • Insulin
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2