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Eur J Nutr. 2013 Apr;52(3):1029-38. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0409-2. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Distribution of procyanidins and their metabolites in rat plasma and tissues in relation to ingestion of procyanidin-enriched or procyanidin-rich cocoa creams.

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Department of Food Technology, XaRTA-UTPV, Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria Agrària, Universitat de Lleida, Avda/Alcalde Rovira Roure 191, 25198, Lleida, Spain.



Procyanidins are extensively metabolized via phase-II and microbial enzymes. However, their distribution in the body is not well characterized.


This study investigates the distribution of procyanidins (monomers and dimers) and their phase-II metabolites in plasma and tissues (thymus, heart, liver, testicle, lung, kidney, spleen and brain).


Wistar rats were fed with 1 g of cocoa cream (CC), 50 mg of procyanidin hazelnut skin extract (PE) and 50 mg PE in 1 g CC (PECC). The rats were killed at 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 and 18 h after gavage, and the plasma and tissues were analyzed by UPLC-MS/MS.


Epicatechin-glucuronide was the main metabolite in the plasma after the CC intake, with C(max) at 423 nM and t(max) at 2 h, and methyl catechin-glucuronide (301 nM, 2 h) was the main metabolite in the plasma after the PE intake. As a result of the PECC enrichment, epicatechin-glucuronide (452 nM, 1.5 h) and catechin-glucuronide (297 nM, 2 h) were the main metabolites in the plasma. Methyl catechin-glucuronide was found in the liver after PE (8 nmol/g tissue, 4 h) and PECC (8 nmol/g, 1.5 h). The kidney was found to contain a high concentration of phase-II metabolites of procyanidins and is therefore thought to be the main site of metabolism of the compounds. Methyl catechin-sulfate (6.4 nmol/g, 4 h) was only quantified in the brain and after PE intake. Catechin metabolites were not found in the spleen or heart. Phenolic acids were detected in all tissues.


The formulation of a product enriched or fortified with procyanidins is a way to increase their bioavailability, with clear effects on the plasmatic pharmacokinetics, and a greater accumulation of phenolic metabolites in such tissues as the liver, kidney, lung and brain.

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