Metabolism of anthocyanins by human gut microflora and their influence on gut bacterial growth

J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Apr 18;60(15):3882-90. doi: 10.1021/jf3002153. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


Consumption of anthocyanins has been related with beneficial health effects. However, bioavailability studies have shown low concentration of anthocyanins in plasma and urine. In this study, we have investigated the bacterial-dependent metabolism of malvidin-3-glucoside, gallic acid and a mixture of anthocyanins using a pH-controlled, stirred, batch-culture fermentation system reflective of the distal human large intestine conditions. Most anthocyanins have disappeared after 5 h incubation while gallic acid remained constant through the first 5 h and was almost completely degraded following 24 h of fermentation. Incubation of malvidin-3-glucoside with fecal bacteria mainly resulted in the formation of syringic acid, while the mixture of anthocyanins resulted in formation of gallic, syringic and p-coumaric acids. All the anthocyanins tested enhanced significantly the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus-Enterococcus spp. These results suggest that anthocyanins and their metabolites may exert a positive modulation of the intestinal bacterial population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gallic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Large / microbiology*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Gallic Acid