In vitro enzymic hydrolysis of chlorogenic acids in coffee

Joana Amarante da Encarnação, Tracy L. Farrell, Alexandra Ryder, Nicolai U. Kraut, Gary Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Scope: Coffee is rich in quinic acid esters of phenolic acids (chlorogenic acids) but also contains some free phenolic acids. A proportion of phenolic acids appear in the blood rapidly after coffee consumption due to absorption in the small intestine. We investigated in vitro whether this appearance could potentially be derived from free phenolic acids in instant coffee or from hydrolysis of chlorogenic acids by pancreatic or brush border enzymes. Methods and results: We quantified six free phenolic acids in instant coffees using HPLC-DAD-mass spectrometry. The highest was caffeic acid, but all were present at low levels compared to the chlorogenic acids. Roasting and decaffeination significantly reduced free phenolic acid content. We estimated, using pharmacokinetic modelling with previously published data, that the contribution of these compounds to small intestinal absorption is minimal. Hydrolysis of certain chlorogenic acids was observed with human-differentiated Caco-2 cell monolayers and with porcine pancreatin, which showed maximal rates on 3- and 5-O-caffeoylquinic acids, respectively. Conclusion: The amounts of certain free phenolic acids in coffee could only minimally account for small intestinal absorption based on modelling. The hydrolysis of caffeoylquinic, but not feruloylquinic acids, by enterocyte and pancreatic esterases is potentially a contributing mechanism to small intestinal absorption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Caco-2 cells
  • Human plasma
  • Instant coffee
  • Pancreatic digestion
  • Phenolic acids

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