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Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2017 Mar;72(1):48-53. doi: 10.1007/s11130-016-0587-9.

Transepithelial Transport of Curcumin in Caco-2 Cells Is significantly Enhanced by Micellar Solubilisation.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, University of Hohenheim, D-70599, Stuttgart, Germany.
Central Laboratory of German Pharmacists, Carl-Mannich-Str. 20, D-65760, Eschborn, Germany.
AQUANOVA AG, D-64295, Darmstadt, Germany.
Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Frankfurt, D-60438, Frankfurt, Germany.
Central Laboratory of German Pharmacists, Carl-Mannich-Str. 20, D-65760, Eschborn, Germany.


Curcumin, the active constituent of Curcuma longa L. (family Zingiberaceae), has gained increasing interest because of its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-rheumatic properties associated with good tolerability and safety up to very high doses of 12 g. Nanoscaled micellar formulations on the base of Tween 80 represent a promising strategy to overcome its low oral bioavailability. We therefore aimed to investigate the uptake and transepithelial transport of native curcumin (CUR) vs. a nanoscaled micellar formulation (Sol-CUR) in a Caco-2 cell model. Sol-CUR afforded a higher flux than CUR (39.23 vs. 4.98 μg min-1 cm-2, respectively). This resulted in a higher Papp value of 2.11 × 10-6 cm/s for Sol-CUR compared to a Papp value of 0.56 × 10-6 cm/s for CUR. Accordingly a nearly 9.5 fold higher amount of curcumin was detected on the basolateral side at the end of the transport experiments after 180 min with Sol-CUR compared to CUR. The determined 3.8-fold improvement in the permeability of curcumin is in agreement with an up to 185-fold increase in the AUC of curcumin observed in humans following the oral administration of the nanoscaled micellar formulation compared to native curcumin. The present study demonstrates that the enhanced oral bioavailability of micellar curcumin formulations is likely a result of enhanced absorption into and increased transport through small intestinal epithelial cells.


Absorption; Bioavailability; Caco-2 cells; Curcumin micelles; Transepithelial transport; Tween 80

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