Crosstalk between dietary pomegranate and gut microbiota: evidence of health benefits

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Jun 19:1-27. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2023.2219763. Online ahead of print.


Gut microbiota (GM) is an invisible organ that plays an important role in human health. Increasing evidence suggests that polyphenols in pomegranate (punicalagin, PU) could serve as prebiotics to modulate the composition and function of GM. In turn, GM transform PU into bioactive metabolites such as ellagic acid (EA) and urolithin (Uro). In this review, the interplay between pomegranate and GM is thoroughly described by unveiling a dialog in which both actors seem to affect each other's roles. In a first dialog, the influence of bioactive compounds from pomegranate on GM is described. The second act shows how the GM biotransform pomegranate phenolics into Uro. Finally, the health benefits of Uro and that related molecular mechanism are summarized and discussed. Intake of pomegranate promotes beneficial bacteria in GM (e.g. Lactobacillus spp., Bifidobacterium spp.) while reducing the growth of harmful bacteria (e.g. Bacteroides fragilis group, Clostridia). Akkermansia muciniphila, and Gordonibacter spp., among others, biotransform PU and EA into Uro. Uro contributes to strengthening intestinal barrier and reducing inflammatory processes. Yet, Uro production varies greatly among individuals and depend on GM composition. Uro-producing bacteria and precise metabolic pathways need to be further elucidated therefore contributing to personalized and precision nutrition.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; health benefit; pomegranate; urolithin.

Plain language summary

Gut microbiota plays a critical role in maintaining host health.Pomegranate is rich in bioactive components.Consumption of pomegranate positively modulates gut microbiota.Gut microbiota can transform ellagitannins in pomegranate into urolithin.Urolithin has high bioavailability and multiple health benefits.

Publication types

  • Review