British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Functional characterization of three clones of the human intestinal Caco-2 cell line for dietary lipid processing

Séverine Salvinia1, Monique Charbonniera1, Catherine Defoorta1a2, Christian Alquiera1 and Denis Lairona1 c1

a1 Unité 476 INSERM, Nutrition humaine et lipides, 18 Avenue Mozart, 13009 Marseille, France

a2 Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique, Faculté de Pharmacie, 27 Bd J Moulin, 13005 Marseille, France


We aimed to improve the use of the human intestinal Caco-2 cell line for studying dietary lipid and cholesterol processing by using isolated pure clones (). Three clones (TC7, PD7 and PF11) were grown as monolayers on semi-permeable filters and compared for cell viability, fatty acid and cholesterol apical uptake or basolateral secretion, apolipoprotein B-48 basolateral secretion and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase activity. The TC7 clone showed the best viability upon apical incubation with mixed micelles and should be preferred for routine work. Short-term (3·0 h) rates of apical uptake of cholesterol were not different with the three clones, whereas the rate of apical uptake of oleic acid (18 : 1) was lower (P<0·05) with PF11 (250·6 nmol/mg) and the basolateral secretion of cholesterol and oleic acid was lower with the TC7 clone (0·40 and 29·1 nmol/mg respectively). The secretion of apolipoprotein B-48 basolaterally was about 2-fold lower than from PD7 clone. The basal levels of HMG-CoA reductase activity were significantly different (P<0·05; TC7>PF11>PD7). The down-regulation of the enzyme activity was moderate (range 13·8–21·0 %) and comparable in the presence of apical micellar cholesterol, but was much marked upon basolateral incubation with LDL (range 34·0–53·6 %), especially for the PD7 clone. In conclusion, the Caco-2 clones characterized here proved to be particularly suitable for studying lipid nutrients processing. Because these three clones exhibit some different metabolic capabilities, they provide a new tool to study intestinal response to lipid nutrients.

(Received May 24 2001)

(Revised September 18 2001)

(Accepted November 05 2001)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Denis Lairon, fax +33 491 75 15 62, email