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Cocoa polyphenols prevent inflammation in the colon of azoxymethane-treated rats and in TNF-α-stimulated Caco-2 cells

  • Ildefonso Rodríguez-Ramiro (a1), Sonia Ramos (a1), Elvira López-Oliva (a2), Angel Agis-Torres (a2), Laura Bravo (a1), Luis Goya (a1) and Maria Angeles Martín (a1)...

Numerous lines of evidence support a relationship between intestinal inflammation and cancer. Therefore, much attention has recently been focused on the identification of natural compounds with anti-inflammatory activities as a strategy to suppress the early stages of colorectal cancer. Because cocoa is a rich source of bioactive compounds, the present study investigated its anti-inflammatory properties in a rat model of azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon carcinogenesis and in TNF-α-stimulated Caco-2 cells. A total of forty male rats were fed with control or cocoa-enriched diets (12 %) during 8 weeks and injected with saline or AOM (20 mg/kg body weight) during the third and fourth week (n 10 rats/group). At the end of the experiment, colon samples were evaluated for markers of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory activity of a cocoa polyphenolic extract (10 μg/ml) was examined in TNF-α-stimulated Caco-2 cells, an in vitro model of experimentally induced intestinal inflammation. The signalling pathways involved, including NF-κB and the mitogen-activated protein kinase family such as c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinases and p38, were also evaluated. The results show that the cocoa-rich diet decreases the nuclear levels of NF-κB and the expression of pro-inflammatory enzymes such as cyclo-oxygenase-2 and inducible NO synthase induced by AOM in the colon. Additionally, the experiments in Caco-2 cells confirm that cocoa polyphenols effectively down-regulate the levels of inflammatory markers induced by TNF-α by inhibiting NF-κB translocation and JNK phosphorylation. We conclude that cocoa polyphenols suppress inflammation-related colon carcinogenesis and could be promising in the dietary prevention of intestinal inflammation and related cancer development.

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      Cocoa polyphenols prevent inflammation in the colon of azoxymethane-treated rats and in TNF-α-stimulated Caco-2 cells
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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr M. Á. Martín, fax +34 91 549 36 27, email
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