Proanthocyanidin metabolism

 

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FRUIT SOURCE AND STRUCTURAL FACTORS INFLUENCE THE METABOLISM OF PROANTHOCYANIDINS IN THE INTESTINE

In the large intestine, proanthocyanidins (PAs) are converted by bacteria into compounds that are more readily absorbed. A team of scientists at VTT, Finland, have studied the mechanisms by which this process takes place. The effects of the intestinal bacteria on PAs and the(+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin units from which these are formed, are studied in an in vitro (test-tube) model using extracts from grapes and apples. The study has shown that both fruit source and structural factors influence this microbial metabolism.

Proanthocyanidins (PAs), unlike most other nutrients, have been shown to be very poorly absorbed from the gut. After consumption, the PAs continue their journey along the digestive tract to the large intestine and are subjected to the intestinal microflora, which converts and metabolizes them into compounds that are more readily absorbed. Therefore, their health benefits are likely to be a result of smaller compounds derived from them.

The health benefits of a flavonoid-rich diet are widely recognized. There have been many studies focusing on the relationship between the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods and the occurrence of major chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers. These associations have been investigated using evidence from population-based studies, animal studies and in vitro (test-tube) studies. These in vitro studies aim at investigating different mechanisms of flavonoid metabolism outside the human body. However, these studies do not replace studies in a living body, but they help in understanding the phenomena occurring in the intestine.

For further information contact: 
Anna-Marja Aura
VTT, Finland

 

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