European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 1029–1038 | Cite as

Distribution of procyanidins and their metabolites in rat plasma and tissues in relation to ingestion of procyanidin-enriched or procyanidin-rich cocoa creams

  • Aida Serra
  • Alba Macià
  • Laura Rubió
  • Neus Anglès
  • Nàdia Ortega
  • José Ramón Morelló
  • Maria-Paz Romero
  • Maria-José MotilvaEmail author
Original Contribution



Procyanidins are extensively metabolized via phase-II and microbial enzymes. However, their distribution in the body is not well characterized.


This study investigates the distribution of procyanidins (monomers and dimers) and their phase-II metabolites in plasma and tissues (thymus, heart, liver, testicle, lung, kidney, spleen and brain).


Wistar rats were fed with 1 g of cocoa cream (CC), 50 mg of procyanidin hazelnut skin extract (PE) and 50 mg PE in 1 g CC (PECC). The rats were killed at 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 and 18 h after gavage, and the plasma and tissues were analyzed by UPLC–MS/MS.


Epicatechin–glucuronide was the main metabolite in the plasma after the CC intake, with C max at 423 nM and t max at 2 h, and methyl catechin–glucuronide (301 nM, 2 h) was the main metabolite in the plasma after the PE intake. As a result of the PECC enrichment, epicatechin–glucuronide (452 nM, 1.5 h) and catechin–glucuronide (297 nM, 2 h) were the main metabolites in the plasma. Methyl catechin–glucuronide was found in the liver after PE (8 nmol/g tissue, 4 h) and PECC (8 nmol/g, 1.5 h). The kidney was found to contain a high concentration of phase-II metabolites of procyanidins and is therefore thought to be the main site of metabolism of the compounds. Methyl catechin–sulfate (6.4 nmol/g, 4 h) was only quantified in the brain and after PE intake. Catechin metabolites were not found in the spleen or heart. Phenolic acids were detected in all tissues.


The formulation of a product enriched or fortified with procyanidins is a way to increase their bioavailability, with clear effects on the plasmatic pharmacokinetics, and a greater accumulation of phenolic metabolites in such tissues as the liver, kidney, lung and brain.


Food matrix effect Procyanidins Plasma Tissue distribution 



The present study was supported by the CENIT program from the Spanish Minister of Industry and by a consortium of companies led by La Morella Nuts S.A.U. (Reus, Catalonia, Spain) with the following: Shirota Functional Foods, S.L., KRAFT; BTSA, Biotecnologias Aplicadas, S.L., Selección Batallé, S.A., Industrial Técnica Pecuaria S.A., Neuron Bio Pharma, S.A., Grupo Leche Pascual, S.A.U., Innaves, S.A. This study was also supported by the Catalan Government (Interdepartmental Commission for Research and Technological Innovation) through the A. Serra grant. The authors thank Carme Piñol (in charge) from the Animal Facility Service of the University of Lleida for their technical support.

Conflict of interest

Authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aida Serra
    • 1
  • Alba Macià
    • 1
  • Laura Rubió
    • 1
  • Neus Anglès
    • 2
  • Nàdia Ortega
    • 2
  • José Ramón Morelló
    • 2
  • Maria-Paz Romero
    • 1
  • Maria-José Motilva
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Food Technology, XaRTA-UTPV, Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyeria AgràriaUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain
  2. 2.R+D+i DepartmentLa Morella Nuts, S.A.U.Castellvell del CampSpain

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