Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) polyphenols beneficial effects have widely been debated throughout the last three decades, with greater attention to hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, which are by far the most studied. The main concern about the evaluation of EVOO phenols activities in vitro and in vivo is that the absorption and metabolism of these compounds once ingested lead to the production of different metabolites in the human body. EVOO phenols in the ingested forms are less concentrated in human tissues than their glucuronide, sulfate and methyl metabolites; on the other hand, metabolites may undergo deconjugation before entering the cells and thus act as free forms or may be reformed inside the cells so acting as conjugated forms. In most in vitro studies the presence of methyl/sulfate/glucuronide functional groups does not seem to inhibit biological activity. Parent compounds and metabolites have been shown to reach tissue concentrations useful to exert beneficial effects others than antioxidant and scavenging properties, by modulating intracellular signaling and improving cellular response to oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory stimuli. This review aims to give an overview on the reported evidence of the positive effects exerted by the main EVOO polyphenols metabolites in comparison with the parent compounds.
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