High degradation and no bioavailability of artichoke miRNAs assessed using an in vitro digestion/Caco-2 cell model

Aldo Cavallini, Fiorenza Minervini, Antonella Garbetta, Catia Lippolis, Gaetano Scamarcio, Cinzia Di Franco, Rosalba D'Alessandro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the cross-kingdom transfer of vegetable miRNAs (miRNAs) in mammalian species, including humans, is still controversial, recent studies have rejected this theory. Based on these recent studies, we hypothesized that artichoke-derived miRNAs (cca-miRNAs) are not adsorbed into human intestinal cells after cooking and in vitro digestion. In order to test this hypothesis, we evaluated miRNA (cca-miRNAs) in the edible part of globe artichokes (head portion), after cooking and digestion by an in vitro digestion system. The cca-miRNA levels were analyzed by real-time PCR (RT-qPCR), and those that withstood cooking and digestion conditions were further analyzed for their bioavailability using an in vitro system (Caco-2/TC7 cell clone). We detected 20 cca-miRNAs after cooking, 5 of which were statistically down-regulated in comparison with uncooked samples. Only 4 cca-miRNAs were found after in vitro digestion. By using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), we also evaluated the extracellular vesicles (EVs) in homogenized artichoke as possible miRNA transporters. However, approximately 81% were degraded after cooking, while the remaining EVs had changed shape from round to elliptical. Finally, we detected no cell-free cca-miRNAs, miRNAs bound to protein complex, and no cca-miRNAs encapsulated in EVs inside Caco-2 cells or in basolateral medium after bioavailability experiments. In conclusion, the data from the present study agrees with recent findings that the human small intestine does not uptake dietary miRNAs from raw or cooked artichoke heads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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