Phenolic sulfates as new and highly abundant metabolites in human plasma after ingestion of a mixed berry fruit purée

Rui C. Pimpão, Maria Rita Lima, Ricardo Boavida, Gary Williamson, Claudia N. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)


Bioavailability studies are vital to assess the potential impact of bioactive compounds on human health. Although conjugated phenolic metabolites derived from colonic metabolism have been identified in the urine, the quantification and appearance of these compounds in plasma is less well studied. In this regard, it is important to further assess their potential biological activity in vivo. To address this gap, a cross-over intervention study with a mixed fruit purée (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry tree fruit and Portuguese crowberry) and a standard polyphenol-free meal was conducted in thirteen volunteers (ten females and three males), who received each test meal once, and plasma metabolites were identified by HPLC-MS/MS. Sulfated compounds were chemically synthesised and used as standards to facilitate quantification. Gallic and caffeic acid conjugates were absorbed rapidly, reaching a maximum concentration between 1 and 2 h. The concentrations of sulfated metabolites resulting from the colonic degradation of more complex polyphenols increased in plasma from 4 h, and pyrogallol sulfate and catechol sulfate reached concentrations ranging from 5 to 20 μM at 6 h. In conclusion, phenolic sulfates reached high concentrations in plasma, as opposed to their undetected parent compounds. These compounds have potential use as biomarkers of polyphenol intake, and their biological activities need to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-463
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal Of Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2015


  • Berry fruits
  • Bioavailability
  • Conjugates
  • Polyphenols
  • Sulfates

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