Biofortification of rice with zinc: Assessment of the relative bioavailability of zinc in a caco-2 cell model and suckling rat pups

Ming Yu Jou, Xiaogu Du, Christine Hotz, Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Staple foods, such as rice, can now be enriched in micronutrients through conventional breeding (i.e., biofortification) to enhance dietary intake of vulnerable populations. The objectives of this study were (1) to establish a rapid, high capacity Caco-2 cell model to determine the relative bioavailability of zinc (Zn) from samples of staple food breeding lines for potential use as a guideline for selection/breeding and (2) to determine the relative bioavailability of Zn from conventional rice varieties and one Zn-biofortified type. Polished or undermilled, parboiled rice samples were digested in vitro with pepsin and pH adjustment, and by pancreatic enzymes. Zn uptake from digested samples was measured in Caco-2 cells in culture. A previously validated rat pup model was also used to assess Zn absorption in vivo, using gastric intubation and 65Zn labeling. Pups were killed after 6 h, and radioactivity in tissues and in small intestine perfusate and cecum-colon contents was used to measure Zn bioavailability. A biofortified rice variety contained substantially more Zn than conventional varieties, with no change in phytate content. Absorbed Zn (μg/g rice) was significantly higher from the new variety in both the in vitro Caco-2 cell model (2.1-fold) and the rat pup model (2.0-fold). Results from the two models were highly correlated, particularly for the polished samples. Biofortification of rice with Zn results in significantly increased Zn uptake in both models. Since results from the Caco-2 cell model correlated well with those from rat pups, this cell model is likely to predict results in human populations and can be used for screening purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3650-3657
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 11 2012


  • biofortification
  • Caco-2 cells
  • rat pups
  • zinc
  • zinc bioavailability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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