Journal of ethnopharmacology

Role of human gut microbiota metabolism in the anti-inflammatory effect of traditionally used ellagitannin-rich plant materials.

PMID 24969824


Ellagitannin-rich plant materials are widely used in traditional medicine as effective, internally used anti-inflammatory agents. Due to the not well-established bioavailability of ellagitannins, the mechanisms of observed therapeutic effects following oral administration still remain unclear. The aim of the study was to evaluate if selected ellagitannin-rich plant materials could be the source of bioavailable gut microbiota metabolites, i.e. urolithins, together with determination of the anti-inflammatory activity of the metabolites produced on the THP-1 cell line derived macrophages model. The formation of urolithins was determined by ex vivo incubation of human fecal samples with aqueous extracts from selected plant materials. The anti-inflammatory activity study of metabolites was determined on PMA differentiated, IFN-γ and LPS stimulated, human THP-1 cell line-derived macrophages. The formation of urolithin A, B and C by human gut microbiota was established for aqueous extracts from Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. herb (Ph. Eur.), Geranium pratense L. herb, Geranium robertianum L. herb, Geum urbanum L. root and rhizome, Lythrum salicaria L. herb (Ph. Eur.), Potentilla anserina L. herb, Potentilla erecta (L.) Raeusch rhizome (Ph. Eur.), Quercus robur L. bark (Ph. Eur.), Rubus idaeus L. leaf, Rubus fruticosus L. and pure ellagitannin vescalagin. Significant inhibition of TNF-α production was determined for all urolithins, while for the most potent urolithin A inhibition was observed at nanomolar concentrations (at 0.625 μM 29.2±6.4% of inhibition). Urolithin C was the only compound inhibiting IL-6 production (at 0.625 μM 13.9±2.2% of inhibition). The data obtained clearly indicate that in the case of peroral use of the examined ellagitannin-rich plant materials the bioactivity of gut microbiota metabolites, i.e. urolithins, has to be taken under consideration.