Applications of Caco 2 Cell Lines

Cell culture assays has offered exciting new possibilities in many scientific disciplines.The human epithelial cell line Caco-2 has been widely used as a model of the intestinal epithelial barrier. The Caco-2 cell line is originally derived from a colon carcinoma. However, one of its most advantageous properties is its ability to spontaneously differentiate into a monolayer of cells with many properties typical of absorptive enterocytes with brush border layer as found in the small intestine.

The Caco-2 cell line is heterogeneous and contains cells with slightly different properties. Thus, cultivation conditions can be expected to select for the growth of subpopulations of cells resulting in a cellular model system with properties that may differ from the original cell line. Accordingly, results obtained under similar experimental conditions in different laboratories may not be directly comparable. Due to this, a variety of cloned Caco-2 cell lines has been established, and described in the literature.

If properly used the Caco-2 cell line can provide information about the biological and biochemical basis of barrier properties of the intestinal mucosa, but may also unravel valuable information about the absorption of drugs and dietary components relevant for both the pharmaceutical and the food industry. Thus, the Caco-2 cell line has been exploited for a range of applications, among them the following:

  • To study mechanisms and effects of microbiota, microbiota metabolites, food digesta and bioactive food components on the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium (Shimizu 2010).
  • To elucidate pathways for the transport of drugs or food components (e.g. paracellular versus transcellular or passive versus carrier-mediated mechanisms) across the intestinal epithelium (Knipp et al. 1997).
  • In studying potential toxic effects of drug candidates or food metabolites in the intestinal mucosa (Chang et al. 1993).
  • To determine how components of a formulation (e.g. adjuvants or food matrices) may influence intestinal epithelial transport of bioactive molecules (Nerurkar et al. 1996).
  • In the characterization of the optimal physiochemical properties of a bioactive molecule for passive diffusion via the paracellular or transcellular pathways across the intestinal epithelium (Burton et al. 1996).
  • To study molecular details and significance of efflux systems (e.g. multi-drug resistance proteins like the P-glycoprotein) in the intestinal epithelium (Burton et al. 1997).
  • To study and determine interactions between bioactive molecules during transport across the intestinal epithelium (Wacher et al. 1996).

GVK BIO is a global leader in PK and In Vitro ADME services and has built capacities in Caco 2 screening services. Feel free to approach our scientific team for any support.


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