Kenyan purple tea anthocyanins ability to cross the blood brain barrier and reinforce brain antioxidant capacity in mice

Nutr Neurosci. 2014 Jul;17(4):178-85. doi: 10.1179/1476830513Y.0000000081. Epub 2013 Nov 26.


Studies on antioxidants as neuroprotective agents have been hampered by the impermeability of the blood brain barrier (BBB) to many compounds. However, previous studies have shown that a group of tea flavonoids, the catechins, are brain permeable and neuroprotective. Despite this remarkable observation, there exist no data on the bioavailability and pharmacological benefits of tea anthocyanins (ACNs) in the brain tissue. This study investigated the ability of Kenyan purple tea ACNs to cross the BBB and boost the brain antioxidant capacity. Mice were orally administered with purified and characterized Kenyan purple tea ACNs or a combination of Kenyan purple tea ACNs and coenzyme-Q10 at a dose of 200 mg/kg body weight in an experiment that lasted for 15 days. Twenty-four hours post the last dosage of antioxidants, CO2 was used to euthanize the mice after which the brain was excised and used for various biochemical analyses. Brain extracts were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography for ACN metabolites and spectrophotometry for cellular glutathione (GSH). Kenyan purple tea ACNs significantly (P < 0.05) raised brain GSH levels implying boost in brain antioxidant capacity. However, co-administration of both antioxidants caused a reduction of these beneficial effects implying a negative interaction. Notably, ACN metabolites were detected in brain tissue of ACN-fed mice. Our results constitute the first demonstration that Kenyan purple tea ACNs can cross the BBB reinforcing the brain's antioxidant capacity. Hence, the need to study them as suitable candidates for dietary supplements that could support antioxidant capacity in the brain and have potential to provide neuroprotection in neurodegenerative conditions.

Keywords: Anthocyanins; Blood brain barrier; Coenzyme-Q10; Glutathione; Kenyan purple tea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Body Weight
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Tea
  • Ubiquinone
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • coenzyme Q10
  • Glutathione