Polyphenol- and Caffeine-Rich Postfermented Pu-erh Tea Improves Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome by Remodeling Intestinal Homeostasis in Mice

Infect Immun. 2017 Dec 19;86(1):e00601-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00601-17. Print 2018 Jan.


Postfermented Pu-erh tea (PE) protects against metabolic syndrome (MS), but little is known regarding its underlying mechanisms. Animal experiments were performed to determine whether the gut microbiota mediated the improvement in diet-induced MS by PE and its main active components (PEAC). We confirmed that PE altered the body composition and energy efficiency, attenuated metabolic endotoxemia and systemic and multiple-tissue inflammation, and improved the glucose and lipid metabolism disorder in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice via multiple pathways. Notably, PE promoted the lipid oxidation and browning of white adipose tissue (WAT) in HFD-fed mice. Polyphenols and caffeine (CAF) played critical roles in improving these parameters. Meanwhile, PE remodeled the disrupted intestinal homeostasis that was induced by the HFD. Many metabolic changes observed in the mice were significantly correlated with alterations in specific gut bacteria. Akkermansia muciniphila and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were speculated to be the key gut bacterial links between the PEAC treatment and MS at the genus and species levels. Interestingly, A. muciniphila administration altered body composition and energy efficiency, promoted the browning of WAT, and improved the lipid and glucose metabolism disorder in the HFD-fed mice, whereas F. prausnitzii administration reduced the HFD-induced liver and intestinal inflammatory responses. In summary, polyphenol- and CAF-rich PE improved diet-induced MS, and this effect was associated with a remodeling of the gut microbiota.

Keywords: Akkermansia muciniphila; fat browning; gut microbiota; inflammatory responses; metabolic endotoxemia; metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Endotoxemia / drug therapy
  • Endotoxemia / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota / drug effects
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • Caffeine