Intestinal bacterial metabolism of flavonoids and its relation to some biological activities

Arch Pharm Res. 1998 Feb;21(1):17-23. doi: 10.1007/BF03216747.


Flavonoid glycosides were metabolized to phenolic acids via aglycones by human intestinal microflora producing alpha-rhamnosidase, exo-beta-glucosidase, endo-beta-glucosidase and/or beta-glucuronidase. Rutin, hesperidin, naringin and poncirin were transformed to their aglycones by the bacteria producing alpha-rhamnosidase and beta-glucosidase or endo-beta-glucosidase, and baicalin, puerarin and daidzin were transformed to their aglycones by the bacteria producing beta-glucuronidase, C-glycosidase and beta-glycosidase, respectively. Anti-platelet activity and cytotoxicity of the metabolites of flavonoid glycosides by human intestinal bacteria were more effective than those of the parental compounds. 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and 4-hydroxyl-phenylacetic acid were more effective than rutin and quercetin on anti-platelet aggregation activity. 2,4,6-Trihydroxybenzaldehyde, quercetin and ponciretin were more effective than rutin and ponciretin on the cytotoxicity for tumor cell lines. We insist that these flavonoid glycosides should be natural prodrugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Flavonoids / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Flavonoids / toxicity
  • Glycosides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Trypsin Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Flavonoids
  • Glycosides
  • Phenols
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Trypsin Inhibitors