Microbial metabolism of theaflavin-3,3′-digallate and its gut microbiota composition modulatory effects

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Theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TFDG), a bioactive black tea phenolic, is poorly absorbed in the small intestine, and it has been suggested that gut microbiota metabolism plays a crucial role in its bioactivities. However, information on its metabolic fate and impact on gut microbiota is limited. Here, TFDG was anaerobically fermented in vitro by human fecal microbiota, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was used for comparison. Despite the similar flavan-3-ol skeletons, TFDG was more slowly degraded and yielded a distinctively different metabolic profile. The formation of theanaphthoquinone as the main metabolites was unique to TFDG. Additionally, a number of hydroxylated phenylcarboxylic acids were formed with low concentrations, when comparing to EGCG metabolism. Microbiome profiling demonstrated several similarities in gut microbiota modulatory effects, including growth-promoting effects on Bacteroides, Faecalibacterium, Parabacteroides, and Bifidobacterium, and inhibitory effects on Prevotella and Fusobacterium. In conclusion, TFDG and EGCG underwent significantly different microbial metabolic fates, yet their gut microbiota modulatory effects were similar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-245
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • 16S rRNA sequencing
  • Colonic fermentation
  • Microbial metabolic fate
  • Theaflavins
  • UHPLC-Q-Orbitrap-MS

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