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Active-Italia: Biological Relevance of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols Metabolites

Biological Relevance of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols Metabolites

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More than 30 phenolic compounds have been identified in EVOO, but not all of them are present in every oil. The large variety of polyphenols found in EVOO is different in chemical structures and concentrations (0.02–600 mg/kg), depending on several factors including: variety, region in which the olive is grown, agricultural techniques, maturity of the olive fruit at harvest, and processing.


Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) polyphenols beneficial effects have widely been debated throughout the last three decades, with greater attention to hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, which are by far the most studied.

The main concern about the evaluation of EVOO phenols activities in vitro and in vivo is that the absorption and metabolism of these compounds once ingested lead to the production of different metabolites in the human body.

EVOO phenols in the ingested forms are less concentrated in human tissues than their glucuronide, sulfate and methyl metabolites; on the other hand, metabolites may undergo deconjugation before entering the cells and thus act as free forms or may be reformed inside the cells so acting as conjugated forms.

In most in vitro studies the presence of methyl/sulfate/glucuronide functional groups does not seem to inhibit biological activity.

Parent compounds and metabolites have been shown to reach tissue concentrations useful to exert beneficial effects others than antioxidant and scavenging properties, by modulating intracellular signaling and improving cellular response to oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory stimuli.

This review aims to give an overview on the reported evidence of the positive effects exerted by the main EVOO polyphenols metabolites in comparison with the parent compounds.

Conclusions and Future Research

Most bioavailability studies conducted so far agree that plasma and tissues concentration of EVOO polyphenols metabolites is often higher than the concentration reached by the ingested parent compounds.

Thus, these metabolites are likely to significantly contribute to the beneficial health effect correlated to the regular consumption of olive products.

However, although in the last decade several studies have been focused on the evaluation of the potential health benefits of EVOO phenols metabolites, the data available are still limited.

In vitro studies demonstrated that metabolites are able to exert beneficial effects others than antioxidant and scavenging properties, by modulating intracellular signaling.

At cardiovascular and gastrointestinal level in particular, metabolites showed the ability to ameliorate physiological condition and to prevent exacerbation of inflammation and oxidative stress, with an efficiency comparable or even greater than that of the parent compounds.

It was also observed in many cases that metabolites undergo deconjugation before entering the cells, releasing free forms which are partially converted into other metabolites.

To understand the impact of metabolites on human health, next studies regarding principal EVOO phenols (namely HT and Tyr) and minor compounds must be planned to focus on what is really close to real biological conditions, with particular attention on concentrations and composition of EVOO metabolites at different body levels.

Nevertheless, acquired information, mainly in in vitro experimental models, suggests a significant biological role of these metabolites.

They represent the largest part of a continually changing pool of compounds, which forms following polyphenols ingestion, that is probably responsible, as a whole, for the observed beneficial effect in the prevention and amelioration of the major degenerative diseases.

Source of the Article

Gabriele Serreli and Monica Deiana


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Linked Article

The Health Benefiting Mechanisms of Virgin Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds
Virgin olive oil (VOO) is credited as being one of the many healthful components associated with the Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean populations. . .
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