Catechin is present as metabolites in human plasma after consumption of red wine

Jennifer L. Donovan, Jennifer R. Bell, Siddika E Karakas, J. Bruce German, Rosemary L. Walzern, Robert J. Hansen, Andrew L. Waterhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


Flavonoids are components of fruits, vegetables and wines. An abundance of flavonoids in the diet is correlated with reduced heart disease mortality, suggesting that they act as protective nutrients. However, little is known about the absorption and metabolism of flavonoids after normal foods are consumed. This study measured the levels of one abundant flavonoid, (+)- catechin, and its metabolites in plasma after five male and four female volunteers consumed 120 mL of red wine (RW) one day and de-alcoholized red wine (DRW) on a separate day. Each wine sample contained 35 ± 1 mg catechin (mean ± SEM). Plasma levels of catechin and its metabolite 3'-O- methylcatechin (3'MC) were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) of the trimethylsilylated (TMS) derivatives. Glucuronide and sulfate conjugates were determined after enzymatic hydrolysis. Before RW or DRW consumption, plasma levels of catechin, 3'MC and all conjugates were <2 nmol/L. After 1 h, average levels of catechin, 3'MC and all conjugates increased to 91 ± 14 nmol/L (RW) and 81 ± 11 nmol/L (DRW). At 1 h, 21 ± 1% of the metabolites were methylated and <2% of catechin and 3'MC were unconjugated. Catechin was present as both a sulfate conjugate and a conjugate containing both glucuronide and sulfate residues. 3'MC was present primarily as a glucuronide conjugate. At every time point, catechin was present almost exclusively as metabolites, and these levels were independent of ethanol. Therefore, if flavonoids are protective nutrients, the active forms are likely to be metabolites, which are far more abundant in plasma than the forms that exist in foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1662-1668
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1999


  • Catechin
  • Flavonoids
  • Humans
  • Metabolites
  • Wine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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