Switching the polarity of mouse enteroids affects the epithelial interplay with prenylated phenolics from licorice (Glycyrrhiza) roots

Sarah van Dinteren, Carla Araya-Cloutier, Edyta Robaczewska, Mellody den Otter, Renger Witkamp, Jean Paul Vincken, Jocelijn Meijerink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The utility of 3D-small intestinal organoid (enteroid) models for evaluating effects of e.g. food (related) compounds is limited due to the apical epithelium facing the interior. To overcome this limitation, we developed a novel 3D-apical-out enteroid model for mice, which allows apical exposure. Using this model, we evaluated the effects on the enteroids’ intestinal epithelium (including cytotoxicity, cell viability, and biotransformation) after exposure to glabridin, a prenylated secondary metabolite with antimicrobial properties from licorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Apical-out enteroids were five times less sensitive to glabridin exposure compared to conventional apical-in enteroids, with obtained cytotoxicities of 1.5 mM and 0.31 mM, respectively. Apical-out enteroids showed a luminal/apical layer of fucose rich mucus, which may contribute to the protection against potential cytotoxicity of glabridin. Furthermore, in apical-in enteroids IC50 values for cytotoxicity were determined for licochalcone A, glycycoumarin, and glabridin, the species-specific prenylated phenolics from the commonly used G. inflata, G. uralensis, and G. glabra, respectively. Both enteroid models differed in their functional phase II biotransformation capacity, where glabridin was transformed to glucuronide- and sulfate-conjugates. Lastly, our results indicate that the prenylated phenolics do not show cytotoxicity in mouse enteroids at previously reported minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) against a diverse set of Gram positive bacteria. Altogether, we show that apical-out enteroids provide a better mimic of the gastrointestinal tract compared to conventional enteroids and are consequently a superior model to study effects of food (related) compounds. This work revealed that prenylated phenolics with promising antibacterial activity show no harmful effects in the GI-tract at their MICs and therefore may offer a new perspective to control unwanted microbial growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1852-1866
JournalFood and Function
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024


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