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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1594616, 9 pages
Research Article

The Potential Health Benefits of Polyphenol-Rich Extracts from Cichorium intybus L. Studied on Caco-2 Cells Model

Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Research Center for Food and Nutrition, Via Ardeatina 546, 00178 Rome, Italy

Received 7 September 2015; Revised 28 October 2015; Accepted 28 October 2015

Academic Editor: Gregor Drummen

Copyright © 2016 Elena Azzini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Phytochemicals can exert their bioactivity without reaching the systemic circulation; scarcely absorbed antioxidants might reach the large bowel contributing to protection from oxidative damage-induced gastrointestinal diseases. In the present work, we aimed to study the relationship between potential activity of polyphenol-rich extracts from Cichorium intybus L. and changes in morphological characteristics on Caco-2 cells. Phytochemicals content (carotenoids and flavonoids) and total antioxidant activity of Red Chicory of Treviso and Variegated Chicory of Castelfranco were evaluated. The bioactivity of polyphenol-rich extracts from chicories was studied in in vitro Caco-2 cell monolayers model. Morphological characteristics changes to test the antioxidant and/or prooxidant effect were verified by histological analysis and observed by Electronic Scansion Microscopy (SEM). On Caco-2 cell model, the polyphenols fractions from chicories have indicated a moderate antioxidant behavior until 17 μM concentration, while 70 μM and 34 μM exert cytotoxic effects for Treviso’s and Castelfranco’s Chicory, respectively, highlighted by TEER decreasing, increased permeability, and alteration of epithelium. Our findings support the beneficial effects of these products in counteracting the oxidative stress and cellular damage, induced in vitro on Caco-2 cell model, through interaction with the mucopolysaccharide complexes in the glycocalyx, maintaining in vivo a healthy and effective intestinal barrier.