(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) undergoes auto-oxidation at physiological pH and therefore may be poorly absorbed in the intestine. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), comprising a group of 1-kestose, nystose, and 1F-β fructofuranosyl-nystose, are fermentable by gut bacteria and converted mainly into lactate. This study was conducted to determine whether dietary FOS may help to increase the plasma concentration of EGCG in rats by preventing it from auto-oxidation. Rats consumed an assigned diet, either a 0.3% (w/w) EGCG diet or an EGCG diet with additional 1, 3, or 5% (w/w) FOS, for 2 weeks. The results showed that the plasma concentration of EGCG was 0.21 ± 0.05 μM for the EGCG alone group, and it was significantly higher at 0.65 ± 0.12 μM for the EGCG plus 5% FOS group. Treatments with FOS resulted in a dose-dependent increase in the cecal level of lactate and brought the cecal pH down, with an accompanying alteration in the abundance of Lactobacillus and Collinsella. Because EGCG concentrations in the cecal digesta of rats fed the FOS-containing diet maintained comparatively high levels, FOS likely contributed to the protection of EGCG from auto-oxidation. In conclusion, FOS reduced the pH of the lumen of the intestine, kept EGCG intact to a certain degree, and consequently allowed EGCG to be taken into the blood circulation from the intestine.
Keywords: epigallocatechin-3-gallate; fructooligosaccharides; intestinal absorption; lactate.