Updated bioavailability and 48 h excretion profile of flavan-3-ols from green tea in humans

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Aug;63(5):513-21. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2011.640311. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Green tea is a popular beverage, prepared with infusion of unfermented dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, and is one of the most relevant sources of polyphenolic compounds in the human diet. This study reports green tea flavan-3-ol absorption, metabolism and complete urinary excretion up to 48 h in 20 healthy volunteers. Urinary and tea samples were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Green tea contained monomeric flavan-3-ols and proanthocyanidins with a total polyphenol content of 728 μmol. A total of 41 metabolites were identified in urines, all present in conjugated forms. Among these, six colonic metabolites of green tea flavan-3-ols were identified for the first time after green tea consumption in humans. The average 48 h bioavailability was close to 62%, major contributors being microbial metabolites. Some volunteer showed a 100% absorption/excretion, whereas some others were unable to efficiently absorb/excrete this class of flavonoids. This suggests that colonic ring fission metabolism could be relevant in the putative bioactivity of green tea polyphenols.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry*
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Flavonoids / urine
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plant Preparations / metabolism
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacokinetics*
  • Plant Preparations / urine
  • Polyphenols / analysis
  • Proanthocyanidins / analysis
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Preparations
  • Polyphenols
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Tea
  • flavan-3-ol
  • Catechin