Differential Catabolism of an Anthocyanin-Rich Elderberry Extract by Three Gut Microbiota Bacterial Species

J Agric Food Chem. 2020 Feb 19;68(7):1837-1843. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b00247. Epub 2019 Apr 18.


Elderberries are good sources of anthocyanins, which are poorly absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract but extensively transformed into phenolic metabolites at the colonic level. Because different gut microbiota strains have different metabolism, the catabolism of anthocyanins may lead to interindividual differences in metabolite production. In this work, an anthocyanin-rich elderberry extract was incubated with three single gut microbial strains (Enterobacter cancerogenous, Bifidobacterium dentium, and Dorea longicatena) up to 4 days, to assess differences in their phenolic metabolism. All of the strains degraded the elderberry anthocyanins, but the metabolic pathways followed were different. Although some metabolites were common for all of the strains, a wide disparity was observed in the kind and amount of several phenolic metabolites produced by each species. These in vitro preliminary results may be of help in the interpretation of the bioavailability of anthocyanins and give a clue to understand interindividual variability in metabolite production.

Keywords: anthocyanin; gut microbiota; interindividual variability; metabolism; phenolic acids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / metabolism*
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism*
  • Clostridiales / metabolism*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Enterobacter / metabolism*
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism*
  • Sambucus / metabolism*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Plant Extracts

Supplementary concepts

  • Bifidobacterium dentium
  • Dorea longicatena
  • Enterobacter cancerogenus