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European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 84–90 | Cite as

Evaluation of polyphenol bioavailability in rat small intestine

  • M. Carbonaro
  • G. Grant
  • A. Pusztai
ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION

Summary

Background Dietary polyphenols, which are contained in several foods of plant origin, have been reported to be effective protective agents against cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, data on their absorption from the gastrointestinal tract are still scarce and, often, contradictory. Aim of the study In this report, evaluation of polyphenol bioavailability was carried out by using segments of the small intestine from rat. The extent of absorption throughout the small intestine of rat was evaluated with two model compounds, tannic acid and catechin, as representatives of high and low molecular weight polyphenols, respectively. The consequence of the binding of tannic acid to BSA on both tannic acid absorption and in vivo protein digestibility was also examined. Methods Polyphenol solutions of different concentrations were injected into the lumen of ligated segments (6 cm) of the small intestine and the segments incubated in buffer for 5 min. The residual amount of polyphenol in the lumen of each segment was assayed by maximum absorption in the UV/VIS optical spectrum as was the amount of compound that had crossed the gut wall into the incubation buffer. Digestibility of BSA and of a BSA-tannic acid complex was assayed with rats. Results The results indicated a significant, concentration-dependent, disappearance of both polyphenols from the small intestine of the rat, with higher uptake levels being evident for tannic acid (50 %) than catechin (30 %). However, complete transfer through the gut wall was not observed with tannic acid whilst low but significant amounts (10 %) were detected in incubation buffers with catechin. Partial binding of polyphenols by endogenous proteins in the intestinal lumen was also demonstrated. Complexing tannic acid with BSA (1:10 mol/mol) was not found to affect either the extent of interaction of tannic acid with the small intestine or the in vivo digestibility of the protein. Conclusions Our experiments show that tannic acid and catechin both interact with the gut but only catechin appears able to traverse the gut. In addition, they provide evidence for binding of tannic acid and catechin by endogenous proteins in the intestinal lumen. This may limit their absorption from the small intestine. BSA complexed with tannic acid was as readily digested as BSA alone. This may suggest that tannic acid exerts anti-nutritional effects by binding to proteins of the gut wall and interfering with gut function rather than by inhibition of dietary protein digestion.

Key words Tannic acid – Catechin – Bioavailability – Rat intestine – Polyphenol/protein interaction 

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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Carbonaro
    • 1
  • G. Grant
    • 2
  • A. Pusztai
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, V.Ardeatina 546, 00178 Roma, Italy E-Mail: carbonaro@inran.itIT
  2. 2.Rowett Research Institute, Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB21 9SB, Scotland, UKGB

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