Purpose: Urolithins are bioactive ellagitannin-derived metabolites showing a wide phenotypic variation in their production by the gut microbiota. This work represents a first in vitro step toward the development of new strategies focused on the oral supplementation of urolithins with the aim of overcoming their selective production and making their putative health benefits available for the whole population. Methods: In order to study their gastrointestinal stability, urolithin A, urolithin B, and urolithin B-glucuronide, as well as ellagic acid, were subjected to a simulated gastrointestinal digestion model consisting of oral, gastric, and pancreatic steps followed by a 24-h fecal fermentation. The effect of the entero-hepatic recirculation on urolithin B-glucuronide, a phase II metabolite, was also investigated. Results: Urolithin B was the molecule able to resist to a greater extent the conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, while urolithin A and ellagic acid were drastically unstable during the colonic step. Conjugation with glucuronic acid, ideally occurring in the liver, conferred to urolithin B an increased stability, which may be interesting in the framework of entero-hepatic recirculation. Conclusion: This set of experiments lets hypothesize that orally supplemented urolithins may come into contact with the colonic epithelium and become accessible for uptake or exert local anti-inflammatory activity, overcoming the limitations of enterotypes unable to convert ellagitannins into these putatively beneficial metabolites.
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