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Keywords:

  • Bioavailability/Cinnamon/Mass spectrometry/Polyphenols/Proanthocyanidins

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum L.) bark is widely used as a spice and in traditional medicine. Its oligomeric and polymeric proanthocyanidins are believed to be partly responsible for the beneficial properties of the plant. We describe here the metabolic fate of cinnamon proanthocyanidins in the urine and feces of rats fed a suspension of the whole bark. The metabolites include ten mono-, di-, and tri- conjugated (epi)catechin phase II metabolites and more than 20 small phenolic acids from intestinal microbial fermentation. Some of these are sulfated conjugates. Feces contain intact (epi)catechin and dimers. This suggests that free radical scavenging species are in contact with the intestinal walls for hours after ingestion of cinnamon. The phenolic metabolite profile of cinnamon bark in urine is consistent with a mixture of proanthocyanidins that are depolymerized into their constitutive (epi)catechin units as well as cleaved into smaller phenolic acids during their transit along the intestinal tract, with subsequent absorption and conjugation into bioavailable metabolites.