Coffee induces AHR- and Nrf2-mediated transcription in intestinal epithelial cells

Gamze Toydemir*, Linda M.P. Loonen, Prashanna Balaji Venkatasubramanian, Jurriaan J. Mes, Jerry M. Wells, Nicole de Wit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Coffee induces a health-promoting adaptive response of cells in the body. Here, we investigated enterocyte responses to AHR agonists in coffee and measured their transport across a polarized intestinal epithelium. AHR-activating potencies of Turkish, filter, and instant coffee were determined using DR CALUX® bioassay, before and after intestinal metabolization by Caco-2 cells. Furthermore, effects of coffee on induction of AHR- and Nrf2-pathway genes in Caco-2 cells were evaluated by real-time qPCR. Coffee samples showed considerable AHR-activating potencies in DR CALUX® bioassay (up to 79% of positive control activity). After incubation with Caco-2 cells, AHR activity of different coffees was between 35 and 64% of their initial value, suggesting rapid uptake and metabolization by epithelial cells. Expression of AHR-regulated gene CYP1A1 increased up to 41-fold and most Nrf2-pathway genes were up-regulated by coffee. This in vitro study may support the notion that coffee bioactives contribute to antioxidant defense and detoxification processes in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128261
JournalFood Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021


  • AHR
  • Caco-2
  • Coffee
  • Nrf2
  • Real-time qPCR


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