My research is focused on understanding the role of polyphenols in providing the health benefits associated with consuming bioactive-rich plant foods, and understanding the mechanistic basis of these beneficial changes. I am particularly interested in the ability of polyphenols to prevent or reverse the dysregulated metabolism phenotypes associated with the chronic diseases of the 21st century (i.e. dyslipidemia and impaired glycaemia that are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome). Particular research questions include:

  • What are the main metabolites of polyphenols resulting from human and microbiota metabolism? What is the role of the gut microbiota in determining the bioavailability and metabolism of polyphenols? How does the microbiota transform polyphenols into new chemical structures and what is the impact of this on host health?
  • Which dietary polyphenols, in which foods, and at what doses, effectively ameliorate dysregulated metabolism (e.g. hypercholesterolemia, glycaemia)?
  • How do polyphenols/metabolites interact with signaling pathways, gene expression, metabolic processes and inflammation processes to prevent or overcome dysregulated metabolism?

Ultimately, the aim is to use this fundamental knowledge to underpin the development of new foods that deliver health benefits to consumers, in collaboration with the food industry.

I have a BSc in Botany (Durham), a PhD in Plant Biochemistry (Hull) and almost 20 years of experience of research into the health benefits of dietary polyphenols. I was the coordinator of a recently completed €6 million EU-funded FP7 project (BACCHUS; www.bacchus-fp7.eu) which developed tools and resources, and underpinning scientific evidence, to support the development of dossier applications for health claims for bioactive polyphenols and peptides. I have been involved in a series of EU projects as a PI and work-package leader (FP5-FLAVO, FP6-BASEFOOD, FP6-ATHENA) and have attracted funding from UK and overseas research councils, charities, the Food Standards Agency, the DTI/Innovate UK, the British Council, the food industry and SMEs in the biotech sector. I have published over 145 papers in peer-reviewed journals, have been cited over 10,000 times, and have a H-factor of 56 (Google Scholar). I am on the editorial board of the journals Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and Nutrire. I recently organised and chaired the Organising and Scientific Committees for the 1st International Conference on Food Bioactives (http://www.fbhc2016.com/) and will co-chair the Bioavailability 2018 conference, which will take place in Norwich.

Within the institute, I am the Postgraduate Director and a member of various committees including the SIFT committee (internal review of Research Council proposals), the Athena Swan Committee (advancement of equal opportunities in the workplace for all), Public Engagement Committee, and the Human Research and Governance Committee.


Key Publications

Hollands WJ, Hart D, Dainty JR, Hasselwander O, Tiihonen K, Wood R, Kroon PA (2013). Bioavailability of epicatechin and effects on nitric oxide metabolites of an apple flavanol-rich extract supplemented beverage compared to a whole apple puree: a randomized, placebo controlled, crossover trial. Mol Nutr Food Res 57, 1209-1217.

Czank C, Cassidy A, Zhang Q, Morrison DJ, Preston T, Kroon PA, Botting NP, Kay CD (2013). Human metabolism and elimination of the anthocyanin, cyanidin-3-glucoside: a 13C-tracer study. Am J Clin Nutr 97, 995-1003.

Gasper A, Hollands WJ, Casgrain A, Saha S, Teucher B, Dainty JR, Venema DP, Hollman PC, Rein MJ, Nelson R, Williamson G, Kroon PA (2014). Consumption of standard and polyphenol-rich apples causes beneficial changes in platelet reactivity and plasma nitric oxide.  A randomized controlled trial. Arch Biochem Biophys 559, 29-37.

Moyle CWA, Cerezo Lopez AB, Winterbone M, Hollands WJ, Kroon PA (2014). Potent inhibition of VEGFR-2 activation by tight binding of green tea epigallocatechin gallate and apple procyanidins to VEGF: relevance to angiogeneisis. Mol Nutr Food Res 59, 401-412. [Named MNFR Paper of the Year, 2015]

Cerezo AB, Winterbone MS, Moyle CW, Needs PW, Kroon PA (2015). Molecular structure-function relationship of dietary polyphenols for inhibiting VEGF-induced VEGFR-2 activity. Mol Nutr Food Res. 59, 2119-2131.

Ostertag L. M., Philo M., Tapp H. S., Colquhoun I. J., Saha S., Duthie G. G., Kemsley E. K., de Roos B., Kroon P. A., Le Gall G.. (2017)

Acute consumption of flavan-3-ol-enriched dark chocolate affects human endogenous metabolism – a randomized controlled human interventional trial

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Hollands W. J., Voorspoels S., Jacobs G., Aaby K., Meisland A., Garcia-Villalba R., Tomas-Barberan F., Piskula M. K., Mawson D., Vovk I., Needs P. W., Kroon P. A.. (2017)

Development, validation and evaluation of an analytical method for the determination of monomeric and oligomeric procyanidins in apple extracts.

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Kardum N., Konic Ristic A., Zec M., Kojadinovic M., Petrovic-Oggiano G., Zekovic M., Kroon P. A., Glibetic M.. (2017)

Design, formulation and sensory evaluation of a polyphenol-rich food placebo: an example of aronia juice for food intervention studies.

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Dower J. I., Geleijnse J. M., Kroon P. A., Philo M., Mensink M., Kromhout D., Hollman P. C. H.. (2016)

Does epicatechin contribute to the acute vascular function effects of dark chocolate? A randomized, crossover study.

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García-Villalba R., Espín J. C., Aaby K., Alasalvar C., Heinonen M., Jacobs G., Voorspoels S., Koivumäki T., Kroon P. A., Pelvan E., Saha S., Tomás-Barberán F. A.. (2015)

Validated Method for the Characterization and Quantification of Extractable and Nonextractable Ellagitannins after Acid Hydrolysis in Pomegranate Fruits, Juices, and Extracts.

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