Aqueous raw and ripe Pu-erh tea extracts alleviate obesity and alter cecal microbiota composition and function in diet-induced obese rats

  • Yun Xia
  • Donghong Tan
  • Roya Akbary
  • James Kong
  • Robert Seviour
  • Yunhong KongEmail author
Genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics


Pu-erh tea is attracting increased attention worldwide because of its unique flavor and health effects, but its impact on the composition and function of the gut microbiota remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of aqueous extracts of fermented (ripe) and non-fermented (raw) Pu-erh teas on the composition and function of the intestinal microbiota of rats with diet-induced obesity. We conducted a comparative metagenomic and meta-proteomic investigation of the microbial communities in cecal samples taken from obese rats treated with or without extracts of raw or ripe Pu-erh teas. By analyzing the composition and diversity of 16S rRNA amplicons and expression profiles of 814 distinct proteins, we found that despite differences in the chemical compositions of raw and ripe Pu-erh teas, administration of either tea at two doses (0.15- and 0.40-g/kg body weight) significantly (P < 0.05) increased microbial diversity and changed the composition of cecal microbiota by increasing the relative abundances of Firmicutes and decreasing those of Bacteroidetes. Community metabolic processes, including sucrose metabolism, glycolysis, and syntheses of proteins, rRNAs, and antibiotics were significantly (P < 0.05) promoted or had a tendency (0.10 < P < 0.05) to be promoted due to the enrichment of relevant enzymes. Furthermore, evidence at population, molecular, and metabolic levels indicated that polyphenols of raw Pu-erh tea and their metabolites potentially promote Akkermansia muciniphila growth by stimulating a type II and III secretion system protein, the elongation factor Tu, and a glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. This study provides new evidence for the prebiotic effects of Pu-erh tea.


Pu-erh tea Obese rats 16S rRNA sequencing Meta-proteomics Composition and function Cecal microbiota 


Author’s contributions

Y Xia and Y Kong wrote the manuscript. TDH designed and carried out the animal experiments. J Kong and R Akerbary carried out data collection and analyses. R Seviour contributed to discussion and reviewed/edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

This work was funded by the Major Project of Yunnan Provincial Education Department (research grant ZD2015015), Key Project of Yunnan Science and Technology Department (research grant 2016FA052), Kunming, China, and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31860029).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was performed in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration and was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Animal Care and Use Committee of Institute of Medical Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9581_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.4 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1459 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Science and TechnologyKunming UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Medical BiologyChinese Academy of Medical SciencesKunmingChina
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentToronto UniversityTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Computer ScienceYork UniversityYorkCanada
  5. 5.Microbiology DepartmentLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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