Metabolism of tea flavonoids in the gastrointestinal tract
Spencer, J. (2003) Metabolism of tea flavonoids in the gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Nutrition, 133 (10). 3255S-3261S. ISSN 1541-6100
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Official URL: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/10/3255S.full
There is considerable interest in the bioavailability of flavan-3-ols such as tea catechins and their bioactivity in vivo. Although flavanols such as catechin and epicatechin have long been characterized as powerful antioxidants in vitro, evidence suggests that these compounds undergo significant metabolism and conjugation during absorption in the small intestine and in the colon. In the small intestine these modifications lead primarily to the formation of glucuronide conjugates that are more polar than the parent flavanol and are marked for renal excretion. Other phase II processes lead to the production of O-methylated forms that have reduced antioxidant potential via the methylation of the B-ring catechol. Significant modification of flavanols also occurs in the colon where the resident microflora degrade them to smaller phenolic acids, some of which may be absorbed. Cell, animal and human studies have confirmed such metabolism by the detection of flavanol metabolites in the circulation and tissues. This review will highlight the major sites of flavanol metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract and the processes that give rise to potential bioactive forms of flavan-3-ols in vivo.