Syrah red grapes are used in the production of tannin-rich red wines. Tannins are high molecular weight molecules, proanthocyanidins (PAs), and poorly absorbed in the upper intestine. In this study, gut microbial metabolism of Syrah grape phenolic compounds was investigated.
Syrah grape pericarp was subjected to an enzymatic in vitro digestion model, and red wine and grape skin PA fraction were prepared. Microbial conversion was screened using an in vitro colon model with faecal microbiota, by measurement of short-chain fatty acids by gas chromatography (GC) and microbial phenolic metabolites using GC with mass detection (GC–MS). Red wine metabolites were further profiled using two-dimensional GC mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOFMS). In addition, the effect of PA structure and dose on conversion efficiency was investigated by GC–MS.
Red wine exhibited a higher degree of C1–C3 phenolic acid formation than PA fraction or grape pericarp powders. Hydroxyphenyl valeric acid (flavanols and PAs as precursors) and 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxybenzoic acid (anthocyanin as a precursor) were identified from the red wine metabolite profile. In the absence of native grape pericarp or red wine matrix, the isolated PAs were found to be effective in the dose-dependent inhibition of microbial conversions and short-chain fatty acid formation.
Metabolite profiling was complementary to targeted analysis. The identified metabolites had biological relevance, because the structures of the metabolites resembled fragments of their grape phenolic precursors or were in agreement with literature data.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00394-012-0391-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.