Transient hyperglycaemia is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and endothelial dysfunction, especially in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Nutritional interventions and strategies for controlling postprandial overshoot of blood sugars are considered key in preventing progress to the disease state. We have identified apigenin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin, and (Z) and (E)-2-hydroxy-4-methoxycinnamic acid glucosides as the active (poly)phenols in Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) able to modulate carbohydrate digestion and absorption in vitro as assessed by inhibition of α-amylase and maltase activities. The latter two compounds previously mistakenly identified as ferulic acid hexosides were purified and characterised and studied for their contribution to the overall bioactivity of chamomile. Molecular docking studies revealed that apigenin and cinnamic acids present totally different poses in the active site of human α-amylase. In differentiated Caco-2/TC7 cell monolayers, apigenin-7-O-glucoside and apigenin strongly inhibited D-[U-14C]-glucose and D-[U-14C]-sucrose transport, and less effectively D-[U-14C]-fructose transport. Inhibition of D-[U-14C]-glucose transport by apigenin was stronger under Na+-depleted conditions, suggesting interaction with the GLUT2 transporter. Competitive binding studies with molecular probes indicate apigenin interacts primarily at the exofacial-binding site of GLUT2. Taken together, the individual components of Chamomile are promising agents for regulating carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption at the site of the gastrointestinal tract.
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