Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
Within the last decade, quinoa seeds have gained much popularity as a new food and have recently been proposed as an appropriate food for early introduction in infants. Quinoa contains high levels of saponins, which are known for their adjuvant activity and effect on the intestinal barrier function. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of quinoa on intestinal permeability and inflammation in comparison with the positive controls; cholera toxin (CT), and capsaicin. The effect of quinoa on intestinal barrier function and inflammation is investigated in vitro using a Caco-2 cell line and in vivo using a Brown Norway rat model. Effects in vivo are analyzed by protein uptake, histology, gene expression, antibody levels, and flow cytometry. Quinoa and the positive controls all increased the intestinal permeability, but distinct patterns of absorbed protein are observed in the epithelium, Peyer’s patches, lamina propria, and serum. The quinoa-mediated effect on intestinal barrier function is found to be distinct from the effect of the two positive controls. The findings demonstrate the ability of quinoa to increase intestinal permeability and to promote compartment-specific protein uptake via mechanisms that may differ from CT and capsaicin.