Inhibition of key digestive enzymes by cocoa extracts and procyanidins

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 May 25;59(10):5305-11. doi: 10.1021/jf200180n. Epub 2011 Apr 26.


This study determined the in vitro inhibitory effects of cocoa extracts and procyanidins against pancreatic α-amylase (PA), pancreatic lipase (PL), and secreted phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)) and characterized the kinetics of such inhibition. Lavado, regular, and Dutch-processed cocoa extracts as well as cocoa procyanidins (degree of polymerization (DP) = 2-10) were examined. Cocoa extracts and procyanidins dose-dependently inhibited PA, PL, and PLA(2). Lavado cocoa extract was the most potent inhibitor (IC(50) = 8.5-47 μg/mL). An inverse correlation between log IC(50) and DP (R(2) > 0.93) was observed. Kinetic analysis suggested that regular cocoa extract, the pentamer, and decamer inhibited PL activity in a mixed mode. The pentamer and decamer noncompetitively inhibited PLA(2) activity, whereas regular cocoa extract inhibited PLA(2) competitively. This study demonstrates that cocoa polyphenols can inhibit digestive enzymes in vitro and may, in conjunction with a low-calorie diet, play a role in body weight management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Lipase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pancreas / enzymology
  • Phospholipase A2 Inhibitors*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Proanthocyanidins / pharmacology*
  • alpha-Amylases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Phospholipase A2 Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Lipase
  • alpha-Amylases