Amino Acids

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1427–1439 | Cite as

Activation of the transcription factor Nrf2 in macrophages, Caco-2 cells and intact human gut tissue by Maillard reaction products and coffee

  • Tanja Sauer
  • Martin Raithel
  • Jürgen Kressel
  • Gerald Münch
  • Monika Pischetsrieder
Original Article


In addition to direct antioxidative effects, Maillard reaction products (MRPs) could increase the antioxidative capacity of cells through the induction of cytoprotective enzymes. Since many of those enzymes are regulated by the transcription factor Nrf2, the effect of MRPs on nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in macrophages and Caco-2 cells was investigated. Stimulation of both cell types by MRPs showed a concentration-dependent significant increase in nuclear translocation of Nrf2 up to fivefold after short-term (2 h) and up to 50-fold after long-term treatment (24 h). In intact human gut tissue, nuclear translocation of Nrf2 was significantly twofold increased after short-term incubation. To study the activation mechanisms, macrophages and Caco-2 cells were stimulated with MRPs in the presence of catalase, which significantly suppressed Nrf2 activation. Thus, activation was related to extracellular H2O2 continuously formed from MRPs. Short-term incubation with coffee, a MRP-rich beverage, led to a trend towards Nrf2 activation in macrophages, but not in Caco-2 cells or intact human gut tissue. Long-term incubation with coffee (1–4 mg/mL) significantly increased nuclear Nrf2 up to 17-fold. Since raw coffee was inactive under the tested conditions, the effect was related to roasting products. Coffee-induced Nrf2 translocation was, however, only slightly reversed by catalase. Therefore, the Nrf2 activity of coffee can only partially be explained by MRP-induced, H2O2-dependent mechanisms. Thus, it can be concluded that MRPs may increase the antioxidative capacity inside the cell by inducing Nrf2-regulated signalling pathways not only in different cell types, but also in intact gut tissue.


Nrf2 Maillard products Coffee Roasting products Hydrogen peroxide Intact human gut tissue 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Sauer
    • 1
  • Martin Raithel
    • 2
  • Jürgen Kressel
    • 2
  • Gerald Münch
    • 3
  • Monika Pischetsrieder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Food Chemistry, Emil Fischer CenterFriedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Functional Tissue Diagnostics, Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine IFriedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology, School of MedicineUniversity of Western SydneyPenrithAustralia

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