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Drug Metab Dispos. 2010 Apr;38(4):635-40. doi: 10.1124/dmd.109.030213. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Absorption, distribution, and biliary excretion of cafestol, a potent cholesterol-elevating compound in unfiltered coffees, in mice.

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Wageningen University, The Netherlands.


Cafestol is a diterpene present in unfiltered coffees. It is the most potent cholesterol-elevating compound present in the human diet. However, the precise mechanisms underlying this effect are still unclear. In contrast, cafestol is also known as a hepatoprotective compound, which is likely to be related to the induction of glutathione biosynthesis and conjugation. In the present study, we investigated whole-body distribution, biliary excretion, and portal bioavailability of cafestol in mice. First, dissection was used to study distribution. Five hours after an oral dose with (3)H-labeled cafestol, most activity was found in small intestine, liver, and bile. These results were confirmed by quantitative whole-body autoradiography in a time course study, which also showed elimination of all radioactivity within 48 h after administration. Next, radiolabeled cafestol was dosed intravenously to bile duct-cannulated mice. Five hours after the dose 20% of the radioactivity was found in bile. Bile contained several metabolites but no parent compound. After intestinal administration of radioactive cafestol to portal vein-cannulated mice, cafestol was shown to be rapidly absorbed into the portal vein as the parent compound, a glucuronide, and an unidentified metabolite. From the presence of a glucuronide in bile that can be deconjugated by a bacterial enzyme and the prolonged absorption of parent compound from the gastrointestinal tract, we hypothesized that cafestol undergoes enterohepatic cycling. Together with our earlier observation that epoxidation of the furan ring occurs in liver, these findings merit further research on the process of accumulation of this coffee ingredient in liver and intestinal tract.

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