In vivo absorption and metabolism of leptosperin and methyl syringate, abundantly present in manuka honey

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Sep;61(9). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700122. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Scope: Manuka honey, which shows strong nonperoxide-dependent antibacterial activity, contains unique components, such as methyl syringate 4-O-β-D-gentiobioside (leptosperin) and its aglycone, methyl syringate (MSYR). To determine the potential for biological activity evoked by the ingestion of leptosperin and MSYR, we investigated the absorption and metabolism of these components in manuka honey.

Methods and results: The incubation of MSYR with liver microsomes or S9 fractions in vitro resulted in the formation of MSYR-glucuronide (MSYR-GA), MSYR-sulfate (MSYR-S), and syringic acid as metabolites. Then, manuka honey (15 g) was fed to healthy human volunteers. MSYR-GA, MSYR-S, and MSYR were detected in both plasma and urine. Within plasma, their levels were highest within 0.5 h to 1 h post-ingestion, and most metabolites disappeared within 3 h. In conjunction with the disappearances, a significant amount of metabolites along with trace leptosperin was excreted in urine within 4 h. To elucidate the detailed metabolisms of leptosperin and MSYR, each compound was separately administered to mice. In each case, MSYR-GA, MSYR-S, and MSYR were detected in both plasma and urine.

Conclusion: This study shows the major molecular pathway for leptosperin and MSYR metabolism and could facilitate an understanding of biological functions of manuka honey post ingestion.

Keywords: Bioavailability; Leptosperin; Manuka honey; Metabolites; Methyl syringate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Gallic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Gallic Acid / chemistry
  • Gallic Acid / metabolism
  • Glycosides / chemistry
  • Glycosides / metabolism*
  • Honey / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Leptospermum / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR


  • Glycosides
  • leptosperin
  • methyl syringate
  • Gallic Acid