Intestinal release and uptake of phenolic antioxidant diferulic acids

Mette F. Andreasen, Paul A. Kroon, Gary Williamson, Maria Teresa Garcia-Conesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

219 Citations (Scopus)


Diferulic acids are potent antioxidants and are abundant structural components of plant cell walls, especially in cereal brans. As such, they are part of many human and animal diets and may contribute to the beneficial effect of cereal brans on health. However, these phenolics are ester-linked to cell wall polysaccharides and cannot be absorbed in this form. This study provides the first evidence that diferulic acids can be absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract. The 5-5-, 8-O-4-, and 8-5-diferulic acids were identified in the plasma of rats after oral dosing with a mixture of the three acids in oil. Our study also reveals that human and rat colonic microflora contain esterase activity able to release 5-5-, 8-O-4-, and 8-5-diferulic acids from model compounds and dietary cereal brans, hence providing a mechanism for release of dietary diferulates prior to absorption of the free acids. In addition, cell-free extracts from human and rat small intestine mucosa exhibited esterase activity towards diferulate esters. Hence, we have shown that esterified diferulates can be released from cereal brans by intestinal enzymes, and that free diferulic acids can be absorbed and enter the circulatory system. Our results suggest that the phenolic antioxidant diferulic acids are bioavailable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-314
Number of pages11
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Absorption
  • Bioavailability
  • Bran
  • Diferulic acids
  • Ferulic acid dehydrodimers
  • Free radicals
  • Human
  • Intestinal esterases
  • Rat
  • Rye
  • Wheat

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