Effects of Marine Oils, Digested with Human Fluids, on Cellular Viability and Stress Protein Expression in Human Intestinal Caco-2 Cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In vitro digestion of marine oils has been reported to promote lipid oxidation, including the formation of reactive aldehydes (e.g., malondialdehyde (MDA) and 4-hydroxy-2-hexenal (HHE)). We aimed to investigate if human in vitro digestion of supplemental levels of oils from algae, cod liver, and krill, in addition to pure MDA and HHE, affect intestinal Caco-2 cell survival and oxidative stress. Cell viability was not significantly affected by the digests of marine oils or by pure MDA and HHE (0-90 μM). Cellular levels of HSP-70, a chaperone involved in the prevention of stress-induced protein unfolding was significantly decreased (14%, 28%, and 14% of control for algae, cod and krill oil, respectively; p ≤ 0.05). The oxidoreductase thioredoxin-1 (Trx-1) involved in reducing oxidative stress was also lower after incubation with the digested oils (26%, 53%, and 22% of control for algae, cod, and krill oil, respectively; p ≤ 0.001). The aldehydes MDA and HHE did not affect HSP-70 or Trx-1 at low levels (8.3 and 1.4 μM, respectively), whilst a mixture of MDA and HHE lowered Trx-1 at high levels (45 μM), indicating less exposure to oxidative stress. We conclude that human digests of the investigated marine oils and their content of MDA and HHE did not cause a stress response in human intestinal Caco-2 cells.


  • Cecilia Tullberg
  • Gerd Vegarud
  • Ingrid Undeland
  • Nathalie Scheers
External organisations
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • Chalmers University of Technology
Research areas and keywords


  • Animals, Aquatic Organisms/chemistry, Caco-2 Cells, Cell Survival/drug effects, Cod Liver Oil, Euphausiacea/chemistry, Gastric Juice, Gene Expression Regulation/drug effects, Humans, Oils/chemistry, Saliva, Stress, Physiological/drug effects
Original languageEnglish
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 4
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes