Diets rich in fruit and vegetables are associated with a decreased incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) due, in part, to the bioactive (poly)phenolic components and their microbiota-mediated metabolites. This study investigated how such compounds, derived from ingested raspberries in the gastrointestinal tract, may exert protective effects by reducing DNA damage. Ileal fluids collected pre- and post-consumption of 300 g of raspberries by ileostomists (n = 11) were subjected to 24 h ex vivo fermentation with fecal inoculum to simulate interaction with colonic microbiota. The impact of fermentation on (poly)phenolics in ileal fluid was determined and the bioactivity of ileal fluids pre- and post fermentation investigated. (Poly)phenolic compounds including sanguiin H-6, sanguiin H-10 and cyanidin-3-O-sophoroside decreased significantly during fermentation while, in contrast, microbial catabolites, including 3-(3′-hydroxyphenyl)propanoic acid, 3-hydroxybenzoic acid and benzoic acid increased significantly. The post-raspberry ileal fermentate from 9 of the 11 ileostomates significantly decreased DNA damage (~30%) in the CCD 841 CoN normal cell line using an oxidative challenge COMET assay. The raspberry ileal fermentates also modulated gene expression of the nuclear factor 2–antioxidant responsive element (Nrf2-ARE) pathway involved in oxidative stress cytoprotection, namely Nrf2, NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone-1 and heme oxygenase-1. Four of the phenolic catabolites were assessed individually, each significantly reducing DNA damage from an oxidative challenge over a physiologically relevant 10–100 μM range. They also induced a differential pattern of expression of key genes in the Nrf2-ARE pathway in CCD 841 CoN cells. The study indicates that the colon-available raspberry (poly)phenols and their microbial-derived catabolites may play a role in protection against CRC in vivo.
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