• Black tea;
  • EGCG;
  • Green tea;
  • HCT116 colon cancer cells;
  • Phenolic metabolites


Tea polyphenols are metabolized by the colonic microflora yielding phenolic metabolites, which may contribute to the health benefits of tea. We determined the serum and urine concentrations of phenolic acids, hippuric acid, and polyhydroxyphenyl-γ-valerolactones during green tea (GT) and black tea (BT) administration. The effects of (–)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (3,4-DHPAA) alone and in combination on bioavailability, intracellular metabolism, and antiproliferative activity were determined in HCT-116 colon cancer cells.

Methods and results

The concentration of phenolic metabolites was quantified by HPLC with electrochemical detection and MS. Urine concentrations of 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid (4-HPAA), 3-hydroxyphenylacetic acid (3-HPAA), and polyhydroxy-γ-valerolactones were increased significantly in men drinking GT compared to control. Urine concentration of 3-O-methylgallic acid (3OMGA) was significantly increased in men drinking BT compared to control. Serum 3,4-DHPAA was significantly increased after consumption of GT and BT and 4-HPAA after GT consumption. In vitro treatment of HCT-116 colon cancer cells with 3,4-DHPAA and EGCG exhibited an additive antiproliferative effect, while methylation of 3,4-DHPAA was significantly decreased. 3OMGA exhibited the strongest antiproliferative activity among the phenolic acids.


The consumption of both, GT and BT, was associated with a significant increase in urinary and serum phenolic acids.