Formation of reactive aldehydes (MDA, HHE, HNE) during the digestion of cod liver oil: comparison of human and porcine in vitro digestion models

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this work, we investigated lipid oxidation of cod liver oil during gastrointestinal (GI) digestion using two types of in vitro digestion models. In the first type of model, we used human GI juices, while we used digestive enzymes and bile from porcine origin in the second type of model. Human and porcine models were matched with respect to factors important for lipolysis, using a standardized digestion protocol. The digests were analysed for reactive oxidation products: malondialdehyde (MDA), 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE), and 4-hydroxy-trans-2-hexenal (HHE) by liquid chromatography/atmospheric pressure chemical ionization-mass spectrometry (LC/APCI-MS), and for free fatty acids (FFA) obtained during the digestion by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The formation of the oxidation products MDA, HHE, and HNE was low during the gastric digestion, however, it increased during the duodenal digestion. The formation of the oxidation products reached higher levels when digestive juices of human origin were used (60 μM of MDA, 9.8 μM of HHE, and 0.36 μM of HNE) [corrected] compared to when using enzymes and bile of porcine origin (0.96, and 1.6 μM of MDA; 0.16, and 0.23 μM of HHE; 0.026, [corrected] and 0.005 μM of HNE, respectively, in porcine models I and II). In all models, FFA release was only detected during the intestinal step, and reached up to 31% of total fatty acids (FA). The findings in this work may be of importance when designing oxidation oriented lipid digestion studies.


  • Cecilia Tullberg
  • Karin Larsson
  • Nils-Gunnar Carlsson
  • Irene Comi
  • Nathalie Scheers
  • Gerd Vegarud
  • Ingrid Undeland
External organisations
  • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Research areas and keywords


  • Aldehydes/chemistry, Animals, Cod Liver Oil/chemistry, Digestion, Gastrointestinal Tract/metabolism, Humans, Malondialdehyde/chemistry, Oxidation-Reduction, Swine/metabolism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-12
Number of pages12
JournalFood & Function
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

Correction for ‘Formation of reactive aldehydes (MDA, HHE, HNE) during the digestion of cod liver oil: comparison of human and porcine in vitro digestion models’ by Cecilia Tullberg et al., Food Funct., 2016, 7, 1401–1412. DOI: 10.1039/C7FO90044A