Interaction between phenolics and gut microbiota: role in human health

J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Aug 12;57(15):6485-501. doi: 10.1021/jf902107d.


Dietary phenolic compounds are often transformed before absorption. This transformation modulates their biological activity. Different studies have been carried out to understand gut microbiota transformations of particular polyphenol types and identify the responsible microorganisms. Although there are potentially thousands of different phenolic compounds in the diet, they are typically transformed to a much smaller number of metabolites. The aim of this review was to discuss the current information about the microbial degradation metabolites obtained from different phenolics and their formation pathways, identifying their differences and similarities. The modulation of gut microbial population by phenolics was also reviewed in order to understand the two-way phenolic-microbiota interaction. Clostridium and Eubacterium genera, which are phylogenetically associated, are other common elements involved in the metabolism of many phenolics. The health benefits from phenolic consumption should be attributed to their bioactive metabolites and also to the modulation of the intestinal bacterial population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Phenols / metabolism*


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols