Anthocyanins are absorbed in glycated forms in elderly women: a pharmacokinetic study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 May;73(5):920-6. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/73.5.920.


Background: Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that are widely distributed in fruit, vegetables, and red wines. Anthocyanin products are also prescribed as medicines in many countries for treating various diseases. However, the pharmacokinetics of dietary anthocyanins are not known in humans because these glycosides were long considered nonabsorbable.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether anthocyanins can be absorbed as glycosides and to evaluate their pharmacokinetics in humans.

Design: Four healthy elderly women consumed 720 mg anthocyanins. A series of blood and urine samples were collected before and after consumption of the anthocyanins. Anthocyanins were measured in plasma and urine by combining an octadecylsilane solid-phase extraction for sample preparation and an HPLC system with diode array for anthocyanin separation and detection. The structures of anthocyanins as glycosides in plasma and urine were further confirmed by using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Results: Anthocyanins were detected as glycosides in plasma and urine. The maximum plasma concentration of total anthocyanins varied from 55.3 to 168.3 nmol/L, with an average of 97.4 nmol/L, and was reached within 71.3 min. The elimination of plasma anthocyanins appeared to follow first-order kinetics. The elimination half-life of plasma total anthocyanins was calculated to be 132.6 min. Most anthocyanin compounds were excreted in urine during the first 4 h. The excretion rate of total anthocyanins was 77 microg/h during the first 4 h and 13 microg/h during the second 4 h.

Conclusion: Anthocyanins are absorbed in their unchanged glycated forms in elderly women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthocyanins / blood
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anthocyanins / urine
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Glucosides / blood
  • Glycosides / blood*
  • Glycosides / urine
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Plant Extracts


  • Anthocyanins
  • Glucosides
  • Glycosides
  • Plant Extracts
  • cyanidin-3-O-beta-glucopyranoside