Call for SR&TD Project Grants - 2017
brown algae phlorotannins: from bioavailability to development of new functional foods
Susana Maria de Almeida Cardoso
Universidade de Aveiro
Agricultural Biotechnology

Health Sciences
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The increasing awareness for a conscious eating habits as well as the changing of consumers? perception towards organic products and of environmentally sustainable products caused millions of people worldwide to adopt healthier lifestyles, resulting in changes in their tastes and preferences, thus fueling the growth of NATURALLY-DERIVED PRODUCTS demand, which was estimated to grown 16% between 2015?2020 and reach the value of USD 15.98 billion. In this context, marine MACROALGAE appear as the super-food from the future due to their rich and balanced composition in nutrient and BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS, with new products being launched on the European market at an exponential rate. Among seaweeds? bioactive compounds, PHLOROTANNINS (PT), ie, phenolic compound from brown algae, have been associated with multiple health benefits. However, to understand their real physiological effects in vivo, a critical question remains to be answered: Are they BIOAVAILABLE? In fact, issues such as digestive stability, gut microbial or enzymatic metabolization, absorption mechanisms, pharmacokinetics and body distribution profile are key factors affecting PT bioefficacy but still, all of them remain unclear. These end points get even more interest to clarify when considering that the marine research applied to food is a target social challenge in European Program Horizon 2020.
The team know-how in physicochemical and bioactive characterization of phenolic compounds as well as on synthesis of phenolic metabolites will be determinant for the success of the project. The PT-rich extracts will be obtained from relevant brown macroalgae species for Portuguese and European culture and further characterized through chromatography and spectroscopy methods. Afterwards, PT stability along the digestive tract will be analyzed in a static digestive model followed by fermentation with human fecal microorganisms and ultimately, the bioavailability will be tested in an intestinal barrier model using Caco-2 cells. PT-fed rats will be further used for understanding of compounds bioavailability and pharmacokinetics (accumulation in organs, tissues and fluids) in vivo. In parallel, distinct hallmarks of oxidative stress and inflammation will be monitored since these two conditions are intimately related to several pathologies of the modern society. Additionally, the bioefficacy of the main PT versus corresponding metabolites will be compared using diverse oxidative stress and inflammation cellular models. Because of the increasing demand for foods with superior functional value, another goal of this project is to create new macroalgae-fortified products. In this context, it is also necessary to consider that PT can possibly interact with food macromolecules and hence, their bioavailability in the new food products will be tested as well. Overall, the project hopes to contribute for bridging an important gap on understanding of the biological properties of PT and brown macroalgae as well.