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      Biological Significance of Urolithins, the Gut Microbial Ellagic Acid-Derived Metabolites: The Evidence So Far

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          Abstract

          The health benefits attributed to pomegranate have been associated with its high content in polyphenols, particularly ellagitannins. This is also the case for other ellagitannin-containing fruits and nuts including strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, walnuts, and muscadine grapes. The bioavailability of ellagitannins and ellagic acid is however very low. These molecules suffer extensive metabolism by the gut microbiota to produce urolithins that are much better absorbed. Urolithins circulate in plasma as glucuronide and sulfate conjugates at concentrations in the range of 0.2–20 μM. It is therefore conceivable that the health effects of ellagitannin-containing products can be associated with these gut-produced urolithins, and thus the evaluation of the biological effects of these metabolites is essential. Recent research, mostly based on in vitro testing, has shown preliminary evidence of the anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antiglycative, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects of urolithins, supporting their potential contribution to the health effects attributed to pomegranate and ellagitannin-rich foods. The number of in vivo studies is still limited, but they show preventive effects of urolithins on gut and systemic inflammation that encourage further research. Both in vivo and mechanistic studies are necessary to clarify the health effects of these metabolites. Attention should be paid when designing these mechanistic studies in order to use the physiologically relevant metabolites (urolithins in gut models and their conjugated derivatives in systemic models) at concentrations that can be reached in vivo.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing.

          The antioxidant activity of pomegranate juices was evaluated by four different methods (ABTS, DPPH, DMPD, and FRAP) and compared to those of red wine and a green tea infusion. Commercial pomegranate juices showed an antioxidant activity (18-20 TEAC) three times higher than those of red wine and green tea (6-8 TEAC). The activity was higher in commercial juices extracted from whole pomegranates than in experimental juices obtained from the arils only (12-14 TEAC). HPLC-DAD and HPLC-MS analyses of the juices revealed that commercial juices contained the pomegranate tannin punicalagin (1500-1900 mg/L) while only traces of this compound were detected in the experimental juice obtained from arils in the laboratory. This shows that pomegranate industrial processing extracts some of the hydrolyzable tannins present in the fruit rind. This could account for the higher antioxidant activity of commercial juices compared to the experimental ones. In addition, anthocyanins, ellagic acid derivatives, and hydrolyzable tannins were detected and quantified in the pomegranate juices.
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            Interaction between phenolics and gut microbiota: role in human health.

            Dietary phenolic compounds are often transformed before absorption. This transformation modulates their biological activity. Different studies have been carried out to understand gut microbiota transformations of particular polyphenol types and identify the responsible microorganisms. Although there are potentially thousands of different phenolic compounds in the diet, they are typically transformed to a much smaller number of metabolites. The aim of this review was to discuss the current information about the microbial degradation metabolites obtained from different phenolics and their formation pathways, identifying their differences and similarities. The modulation of gut microbial population by phenolics was also reviewed in order to understand the two-way phenolic-microbiota interaction. Clostridium and Eubacterium genera, which are phylogenetically associated, are other common elements involved in the metabolism of many phenolics. The health benefits from phenolic consumption should be attributed to their bioactive metabolites and also to the modulation of the intestinal bacterial population.
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              Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.

              Dietary supplementation with nutrients rich in antioxidants is associated with inhibition of atherogenic modifications to LDL, macrophage foam cell formation, and atherosclerosis. Pomegranates are a source of polyphenols and other antioxidants. We analyzed, in healthy male volunteers and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient (E(0)) mice, the effect of pomegranate juice consumption on lipoprotein oxidation, aggregation, and retention; macrophage atherogenicity; platelet aggregation; and atherosclerosis. Potent antioxidative effects of pomegranate juice against lipid peroxidation in whole plasma and in isolated lipoproteins (HDL and LDL) were assessed in humans and in E(0) mice after pomegranate juice consumption for
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                Research Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods, Department of Food Science and Technology, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus de Espinardo, P.O. Box 164, 30100 Murcia, Spain
                Author notes
                *Francisco Tomás-Barberán: fatomas@123456cebas.csic.es

                Academic Editor: David Heber

                Journal
                Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
                Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
                ECAM
                Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                1741-427X
                1741-4288
                2013
                28 May 2013
                28 May 2013
                : 2013
                23781257
                3679724
                10.1155/2013/270418
                Copyright © 2013 Juan Carlos Espín et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review Article

                Complementary & Alternative medicine

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