Metabolism and bioactivity of phytochemicals

Home » Research Teams » Metabolism and bioactivity of phytochemicals (BIOCELL)

Bioactive compounds (polyphenols, methylxanthines, prebiotics) form vegetable foods (phytochemicals) play a crucial role in consumer`s health, although not the individual response of each person may differ. The reasons for this interindividual variability include the different capacity to absorb and metabolize these compounds, genetic and epigenetic factors of each person (nutri(epi)genetics) or life style, among other factors.

The group BIOCELL studies the bioavailability of plant phytochemicals, the mechanisms of action of these compounds and their metabolites, the involvement of the intestinal microbiota in the response to their consumption, and the activity of phytochemicals on non-communicable chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease, with a focus on personalized nutrition.

The research methodology is based on experiments in cell culture, preclinical research in different animal models, and performing intervention clinical trials in humans, both in healthy volunteers and persons at risk.

Research Lines

  • Metabolomic bioavailability studies.
  • Molecular mechanisms of action of phytochemicals and their metabolites: cell signalling pathways.
  • Role of the intestinal microbiota in the metabolism and bioactivity of phytochemicals.
  • Precision nutrition in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.


  • Analysis of bioactive compounds (polyphenols, methylxanthines, dietary fiber, prebiotics) in foodstuff and biological samples.
  • Evaluation of in vitro antioxidant capacity (FRAP, ABTS, ORAC, etc.), ex vivo (oxidative stress cell model) and in vivo. Biomarkers
  • Cell bioaccessibility (transport, metabolism) of phytochemicals, tissue distribution in animals and pharmacokinetic bioavailability studies in humans. Analysis of metabolites (LC-DAD, LC-MS, LC-QTOF).
  • Transformed cell lines and animal models of dyslipemia, diabetes and cancer for biochemical and molecular mechanisms of action studies using phytochemicals to combat the pathologies.
  • Human intervention studies. Validation of the health effects of functional food (healthy and at-health risk populations, CVR, etc).


  • Procedimiento de obtención de aceites o grasas con alto contenido antioxidante.
  • Author(s): Cert A, Romero A, Mateos R, Alcudia F, Espartero JL & Trujillo M.
  • Center: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas y Universidad de Sevilla.
  • Priority Country: European Community.
  • Number: WO 2012/042080 A1

BIOCELL Leaders:

Scientific Personnel:


  • 91 549 23 00


  • Alvarez-Cilleros D, Martín MA, Ramos S. Epicatechin and the colonic 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid metabolite regulate glucose uptake, glucose production, and improve insulin signalling in renal NRK-52E cells. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 62, 1700470 (2018).
  • Baeza, G.,Sarriá, B., Mateos, R., Bravo, L. Improved LC-MSn characterization of hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and flavanols in mate (Ilex paraguariensis) and evaluation of the polyphenols and methylxanthines content and their antioxidant activity. Food Chem., 241, 232-241 (2018).
  • Alvarez-Cilleros D, López-Oliva E, Morales-Cano D, Barreira B, Pérez-Vizcaino F, Goya L, Ramos S, Martín MA. Dietary cocoa prevents aortic remodelling and vascular oxidative stress in diabetic rats. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 63, 1900044 (2019).
  • Gómez-Juaristi, M., Sarriá, B., Martínez-López, S., Bravo, L., Mateos, R. Flavanol bioavailability in two cocoa products with different phenolic contents. A comparative study in humans. Nutrients 11, 1441 (2019).
  • Martínez-López, S.,Sarriá, B., Mateos, R.Bravo, L. Moderate consumption of a soluble green/roasted coffee rich in caffeoylquinic acids reduces cardiovascular risk markers: results from a randomized, cross-over, controlled trial in healthy and hypercholesterolemic subjects. Eur. J. Nutr. 58, 865-878 (2019).
  • Alvarez-Cilleros D, Ramos S, López-Oliva E, Escriva F, Alvarez C, Fernandez-Millan E, Martín MA. Cocoa diet modulates gut microbiota composition and improves intestinal health in Zucker diabetic rats. Food Res. Inter. 132, 109058 (2020).