Influence of Phenol-Enriched Olive Oils on Human Intestinal Immune Function

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Olive oil (OO) phenolic compounds (PC) are able to influence gut microbial populations and metabolic output.

Our aim was to investigate whether these compounds and changes affect the mucosal immune system.

In a randomized, controlled, double blind cross-over human trial, for three weeks, preceded by two-week washout periods, 10 hypercholesterolemic participants ingested 25 mL/day of three raw virgin OO differing in their PC concentration and origin: (1) an OO containing 80 mg PC/kg (VOO); (2) a PC-enriched OO containing 500 mg PC/kg from OO (FVOO); and (3) a PC-enriched OO containing a mixture of 500 mg PC/kg from OO and thyme (1:1, FVOOT).

Intestinal immunity (fecal immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgA-coated bacteria) and inflammation markers (C-reactive protein (CRP) and fecal interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and calprotectin) was analyzed.

The ingestion of high amounts of OO PC, as contained in FVOO, tended to increase the proportions of IgA-coated bacteria and increased plasma levels of CRP.

However, lower amounts of OO PC (VOO) and the combination of two PC sources (FVOOT) did not show significant effects on the variables investigated.

Results indicate a potential stimulation of the immune system with very high doses of OO PC, which should be further investigated.

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