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Identification of epicatechin as one of the key bioactive constituents of polyphenol-enriched extracts that demonstrate an anti-allergic effect in a murine model of food allergy

Singh, A;Demont, A;Actis-Goretta, L;Holvoet, S;Lvques, A;Lepage, M;Nutten, S;Mercenier, A;

Polyphenols are naturally derived bioactive compounds with numerous reported health benefits. We have previously reported on the beneficial effect of a polyphenol-enriched apple extract in a murine model of food allergy. The objectives of the present study were to elucidate the class of bioactive polyphenols that exhibit a beneficial anti-allergic effect and to assess whether the protective effect matches the in vivo bioavailable metabolite concentrations. Female BALB/c mice were sensitised to ovalbumin (OVA) following the protocol of a well-established murine model of food allergy. They were fed diets containing polyphenol-enriched extracts or purified epicatechin for 8 d after the last sensitisation. The sensitised mice were orally challenged with OVA after the intervention. The allergy symptoms, in addition to allergen-specific serum Ig concentrations and gene expression profiles in the intestine, of the control and treated mice were compared. Plasma samples were collected to compare the concentrations of bioavailable epicatechin metabolites in the treatment groups. Polyphenol-enriched fruit extracts containing epicatechin exhibited a significant anti-allergic effect in vivo. This effect was unambiguously attributed to epicatechin, as oral administration of this purified polyphenol to sensitised mice by inclusion in their diet modulated allergy symptoms in a dose-dependent manner. Immune parameters were also affected by the administration of epicatechin. Bioavailability measurements in plasma indicated that the attenuation of allergy symptoms could be due to the higher concentrations of bioavailable epicatechin metabolites. In conclusion, epicatechin is a key bioactive polyphenol that has the ability to modulate allergy outcomes in sensitised mice.