Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9346470, 29 pages
Review Article

Bioactivity of Polyphenols: Preventive and Adjuvant Strategies toward Reducing Inflammatory Bowel Diseases—Promises, Perspectives, and Pitfalls

1Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Environmental Research and Innovation Department, 41 rue du Brill, 4422 Belvaux, Luxembourg
2Luxembourg Institute of Health, Population Health Department, 1 A-B rue Thomas Edison, 1445 Strassen, Luxembourg

Received 4 February 2016; Revised 13 April 2016; Accepted 24 May 2016

Academic Editor: Vasantha Rupasinghe

Copyright © 2016 Anouk Kaulmann and Torsten Bohn. 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.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are characterized by autoimmune and inflammation-related complications of the large intestine (ulcerative colitis) and additional parts of the digestive tract (Crohn’s disease). Complications include pain, diarrhoea, chronic inflammation, and cancer. IBD prevalence has increased during the past decades, especially in Westernized countries, being as high as 1%. As prognosis is poor and medication often ineffective or causing side effects, additional preventive/adjuvant strategies are sought. A possible approach is via diets rich in protective constituents. Polyphenols, the most abundant phytochemicals, have been associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and apoptotic properties. Locally reducing oxidative stress, they can further act on cellular targets, altering gene expression related to inflammation, including NF-κB, Nrf-2, Jak/STAT, and MAPKs, suppressing downstream cytokine formation (e.g., IL-8, IL-1β, and TNF-α), and boosting the bodies’ own antioxidant status (HO-1, SOD, and GPx). Moreover, they may promote, as prebiotics, healthy microbiota (e.g., Bifidobacteria, Akkermansia), short-chain fatty acid formation, and reduced gut permeability/improved tight junction stability. However, potential adverse effects such as acting as prooxidants, or perturbations of efflux transporters and phase I/II metabolizing enzymes, with increased uptake of undesired xenobiotics, should also be considered. In this review, we summarize current knowledge around preventive and arbitrary actions of polyphenols targeting IBD.