Interindividual Differences in Human Intestinal Microbial Conversion of (-)-Epicatechin to Bioactive Phenolic Compounds

Chen Liu*, Jacques Vervoort, Karsten Beekmann, Marta Baccaro, Lenny Kamelia, Sebas Wesseling, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


To quantify interindividual differences in the human intestinal microbial metabolism of (-)-epicatechin (EC), in vitro anaerobic incubations with fecal inocula from 24 healthy donors were conducted. EC-derived colonic microbial metabolites were qualitatively and quantitively analyzed by liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-TQ-MS) and liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-TOF-MS). Quantitative microbiota characterization was achieved by 16S rRNA analysis. The results obtained show 1-(3′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-(2″,4″,6″-dihydroxyphenyl)-2-propanol (3,4-diHPP-2-ol) and 5-(3′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-γ-valerolactone (3,4-diHPV) to be key intermediate microbial metabolites of EC and also revealed the substantial interindividual differences in both the rate of EC conversion and the time-dependent EC metabolite pattern. Furthermore, substantial differences in microbiota composition among different individuals were detected. Correlations between specific microbial phylotypes and formation of certain metabolites were established. It is concluded that interindividual differences in the intestinal microbial metabolism of EC may contribute to interindividual differences in potential health effects of EC-abundant dietary foods or drinks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14168-14181
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • (-)-epicatechin
  • interindividual differences
  • microbial metabolism
  • microbiota
  • phenyl-γ-valerolactones


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