• Glutathione;
  • Human urine;
  • Shogaols;
  • Thiol-conjugated metabolites


Shogaols, a series of major constituents in dried ginger with the most abundant being [6]-, [8]-, and [10]-shogaols, show much higher anticancer potencies than gingerols. Previously, we reported the mercapturic acid pathway as a major metabolic route for [6]-shogaol in mice. However, it is still unclear how the side chain length affects the metabolism of shogaols and how shogaols are metabolized in humans.

Methods and results

We first investigate the metabolism of [10]-shogaol in mouse urine, and then investigate the biotransformation of shogaols in human urine. Our results show that eight major thiol-conjugated metabolites of [10]-shogaol were detected in mouse urine, while six major thiol-conjugated metabolites of [6]-shogaol, two thiol-conjugated metabolites of [8]-shogaol, and two thiol-conjugated metabolites of [10]-shogaol were detected in urine collected from human after drinking ginger tea, using LC/ESI-MS/MS. Our results clearly indicate the mercapturic acid pathway is a major metabolic route for [10]-shogaol in mice and for shogaols in human. Furthermore, we also investigated the regulation of glutathione (GSH) by [6]-shogaol in human colon cancer cells HCT-116. Our results show [6]-shogaol, after initially depleting glutathione levels, can subsequently restore and increase GSH levels over time.


Shogaols are metabolized extensively in mouse and human to form thiol-conjugated metabolites and GSH might play an important role in the cancer-preventive activity of ginger.