Absorption and distribution of tea catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, in the rat

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1997 Dec;43(6):679-84. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.43.679.


To investigate the absorption and metabolism of an anticarcinogenic tea catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCg), in rats, a newly developed chemiluminescence-detection high-performance liquid chromatography (CL-HPLC) method was employed and the EGCg concentrations in blood plasma, liver, brain, small intestinal mucosa and colon mucosa were determined before and after EGCg administration. The recovery of EGCg, extracted consecutively with ethyl acetate and methanol, was 86.1% from plasma and 64.5-74.2% from the tissue samples. The EGCg concentrations of plasma and tissue samples from the control rat (before EGCg administration) were all below the detection limit (< 0.002 nmol/mL, 0.002 nmol/g), but 60 min after a single oral administration of EGCg (500 mg/kg body weight), the levels increased, reaching 12.3 nmol/mL in plasma, 48.4 nmol/g in liver, 0.5 nmol/g in brain, 565 nmol/g in small intestinal mucosa and 68.6 nmol/g in colon mucosa. The EGCg levels found in the tissues corresponded to 0.0003-0.45% of ingested EGCg. The results indicate that tea catechin, EGCg, is absorbed from the digestive tract, with the intestinal mucosa the most enriched of the organelles. This may explain the potent antioxidant function of EGCg in inhibiting colon mucosal phospholipid hydroperoxidation in the prevention of rat colonic carcinogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / blood
  • Catechin / pharmacokinetics
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Rats
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Tea
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate