Microbial hydrolysis of steviol glycosides

Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Jul:46 Suppl 7:S70-4. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.05.008. Epub 2008 May 16.


A review of the role of gut microbiota in the metabolism of the steviol glycosides, stevioside and rebaudioside A, indicates that they are not absorbed intact but undergo hydrolysis by the intestinal microflora to steviol. Steviol is not metabolized by the intestinal flora and is absorbed from the intestine. The rate of hydrolysis for stevioside is greater than for rebaudioside A. Recent studies using mass spectrometry have shown that steviol-16,17-epoxide is not a microbial metabolite of steviol glycosides. Bacteroides species are primarily responsible for hydrolysis via their beta-glucosidase activity. Fecal incubation studies with both human and animal mixed flora provide similar results, and this indicates that the rat is an appropriate model for studies on steviol glycosides. Given the similarity in the microbial metabolism of stevioside and rebaudioside A with the formation of steviol as the single hydrolysis product that is absorbed from the intestinal tract, the toxicological data on stevioside are relevant to the risk assessment of rebaudioside A.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Cellulases
  • Diet
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / administration & dosage
  • Diterpenes, Kaurane / metabolism*
  • Glucosides / administration & dosage
  • Glucosides / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Intestines / microbiology*


  • Diterpenes, Kaurane
  • Glucosides
  • stevioside
  • rebaudioside A
  • Cellulases