Brazil Partnering Award-Understanding the health benefits of bioactives in food

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute Bioscience
Department Name: Food Innovation and Health


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Description 1. There is considerable interest in plant bioactives and some other food bioactives in both the UK and in many areas of Brazil. Brazil is a source of numerous bioactive-rich plants that are either unique to Brazil / S America or where Brazil is the major producer. It is expected that many of these plants will eventually be introduced to British and European markets.
In this project, a number of research teams and commercial operations in Brazil with interests in bioactive-rich foods have been identified, including numerous EMBRAPA units, several research groups in the University of Sao Paulo and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Several collaborations have been started including one on new sources of anthocyanins with EMBRAPA Crop Science in Rio, one on interactions between polyphenols and other small molecules with VEGF signalling which may have therapeutic use (with Dr Ricardo Giordano at the University of Sao Paulo), one on new blood orange varieties developed to develop the red colour in Brazil, and another on the anthocyanin-rich fruit of the jucara palm, which is related to acai. More recently, we have started collaborating with Dr Tatiana El Bacha at the Federal University of Rio on understanding how particular flavonoids and their gut microbiota metabolites influence energy metabolism in cells / mitochondria which has involved a student placement from Rio, several joint meetings and the first paper is expected to be published later this year.
Exploitation Route The collaboration on new sources of anthocyanins could benefit the food industry by providing alternative sources of natural food colours, and by providing evidence of the health benefits of consuming anthocyanins which would underpin the development of new functional foods.

The small molecule inhibitors of VEGF research aims to identify and characterise food bioactives such as polyphenols and peptides that can inhibit VEGF signalling, which could lead to the development of alternative anti-VEGF therapies.

The development and scaling up of production of blood oranges that can be grown and develop the deep red colour in Brazil will facilitate commercialisation in Brazil and will allow for significant expansion of the global market for this commodity, and its year-round availability.

The new collaboration on jucara has the potential to develop scientific evidence to underpin a future novel foods application for Europe if the European market is interested in this type of product. The collaborative research with the Federal University of Rio should establish which polyphenols and/or microbial metabolites can alter cellular energy metabolism and this knowledge could be of benefit to consumers and innovative food companies if it is used to design new foods that have beneficial effects on energy metabolism in the context of metabolic health and disease.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The project was picked up by the Brazilian national newspaper El Globo and Dr Kroon was interviewed about bioactives in foods and their and an article published which reached hundreds of thousands of readers. The article informed readers about the lack of high quality scientific evidence for most superfoods and the fact that this term was usually used as a marketing term rather than indicate any specific and proven health benefit. The partnering award has directly led to new collaborations including exchange of people between researchers in Brail and the UK. 1. 3-month secondment of Dr Renata Borguini from EMBRAPA Food Technology to IFR to undertake a detailed LC-MS analysis of anthocyanins in 3 novel food colour ingredients derived from bioactive-rich Brazilian fruits including training in LC-MS and in mammalian cell culture. This has led to enhanced research capacity in the EMBRAPA unit and has provided the IFR team with material for further research. 2. A planned 6-month collaborative research visit funded by the Brazilian CAPES programme starting April 2017 which will contribute to a new collaboration between Dr Kroon at IFR and Dr Tatiana El Bacha at the Federal University of Rio. The collaboration will focus on polyphenols as modulators of metabolism within breast tissue, which builds on the underlying ISP theme of bioactives acting as modifiers of human metabolism. 3. A 6-month placement of a USP PhD student at QIB to undertake quantitative metabolite profiling of orange polyphenols and their human and microbial metabolites in samples from an RCT. 4. A 6-month placement of a USP PGR student at QIB to undertake experiments to determine the effects of orange fibre-supplementation on the structure (metagenomics) and function (SCFAs, choline/TMA/TMAO metabolism) using QIBs colon models
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal

Description Anthocyanin-rich food colorants from Brazilian berries 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The IFR team trained a Brazilian researcher in mammalian cell culture so they could establish a cell culture facility in the EMBRAPA Food Technogy Unit back in Rio. We also trained the researcher in use of HPLC linked to a triple quadruple mass spectrometer for analysis and structural identification of anthocyanins and other phenolics in plant extracts. We also applied NMR analysis and identified two as yet unreported anthocyanins in Jabuticaba.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of three anthocyanin-rich fruit skin powders that can be used as food colourants.
Impact Research presented at the 1st International Conference on Food Bioactives and Health held in Norwich in September 2016. A review of bioactives in Brazilian fruits and their potential health benefits is being drafted for submission to the Trends in Food Science and Technology journal.
Start Year 2016
Description Collaboration to assess the prebiotic activity of orange polyphenols and fibre 
Organisation Universidade de São Paulo
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided expertise in the analysis of polyphenol human metabolites in complex human tissue samples and the access to LC-MS platforms and extraction and analysis protocols for analysing orange flavanones and their human and gut microbiota metabolites.
Collaborator Contribution The USP group provided human samples from a RCT in which participants were fed orange containing flavanones.
Impact 6-month placement of a PGR student from USP at QIB
Start Year 2019
Description Development of quantitative polyphenol metabolite profiling platform 
Organisation University of Barcelona
Department Faculty of Pharmacy
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We synthesised and purified a series of polyphenol metabolites that are found in human peripheral blood and urine including phase-2 conjugates of food polyphenols and gut microbiota-derived catabolites and their phase-2 conjugates.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Barcelona team have been using these compounds to identify peaks appearing in LC-MS traces and to allow accurate quantification.
Impact The method is in use, publications will start to appear during 2018 and beyond.
Start Year 2017
Description Novel Anthocyanins from Jabuticaba 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Department Embrapa Agrobiologia
Country Brazil 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The QIB team used HPLC, LC-MSn and NMR to isolate and determine the structure of anthocyanins in a novel Jabuticaba peel powder to be used as a food colourant and identified novel anthocyanin structures that had not been report previously.
Collaborator Contribution EMBRAPA Food Technology (Rio) provided the novel, patented peel powder and sent a researcher to characterise the anthocyanins as part of the BPA award.
Impact Identification of novel anthocyanins.
Start Year 2016
Description Polyphenols and energy metabolism in normal and cancer cells 
Organisation Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The QIB group helped develop high sensitivity LC-MS methods for quantifying anthocyanins and their gut microbiota metabolites in cells and in isolated mitochondria, and through a CAPES-funded postgraduate student placement at QIB, involving one of Dr El Bacha's PhD students, we have shown that absorption and metabolism if polyphenols differs between cancerous and non-cancerous cells, in keeping with differences in effects on energy metabolism. Future developments of this collaboration will involve QIB assessing effects on energy metabolism using the Seahorse platform in order to gain a deeper understanding of the effects on metabolic pathways.
Collaborator Contribution The group of Tatiana El Bacha in the Federal University of Rio have generated data that shows that a particular flavonoid can significantly affect energy metabolism in cancerous cells, but with no effects on non-cancerous cells derived from the same organ. They also obtained funding to support student exchanges/placements and PI travel/subsistence for research visits and workshops in the UK as follows: 1-Programa Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado grant number E-26/201.571/2014 funded by Fundacao Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ)-Brazil; 2- Newton Advanced Fellowship grant number RG80003 funded by Academy of Medical Sciences-UK; 3- Programa de Doutorado Sanduíche no Exterior (PDSE) process number 88881.134471/2016-01, funded by Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES)
Impact 1. Postgraduate student placement funded under the Brazilian CAPES scheme. 2. Method for quantifying flavonoids/microbiota-derived metabolites in isolated mitochondria samples. 3. Workshop report from 1st Workshop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Start Year 2016
Description Prebiotic ingredients from orange by-products 
Organisation Universidade de São Paulo
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team provide expertise in investigating the effects of food components on the gut microbiota structure and metabolic capacity and also the colon models in which to do these experiments and the analytical chemistry methods for quantifying the concentrations of polyphenols and their metabolites and nutrients such as choline and their metabolites
Collaborator Contribution The partner has generated some fractions from orange that may have prebiotic activity and also food products such as cookies that contain these putative prebiotic components that can be tested at QIB.
Impact 9-month placement of USP PGR student at QIB
Start Year 2019
Description Bioavailability 2018 International Conference, 'Understanding the bioavailability of micronutrients and bioactive compounds for improved public health', the 8th in the series of Bioavailability conferences. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Bioavailability 2018 International Conference, 'Understanding the bioavailability of micronutrients and bioactive compounds for improved public health', the 8th in the series of Bioavailability conferences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018