The popularity of food products and medicinal plant materials containing hydrolysable tannins (HT) is nowadays rapidly increasing. Among various health effects attributable to the products of plant origin rich in gallotannins and/or ellagitannins the most often underlined is the beneficial influence on diseases possessing inflammatory background. Results of clinical, interventional and animal in vivo studies clearly indicate the antiinflammatory potential of HT-containing products, as well as pure ellagitannins and gallotannins. In recent years a great emphasis has been put on the consideration of metabolism and bioavailability of natural products during examination of their biological effects. Conducted in vivo and in vitro studies of polyphenols metabolism put a new light on this issue and indicate the gut microbiota to play a crucial role in the health effects following their oral administration.
The aim of the review is to summarize the knowledge about HT-containing products’ phytochemistry and their anti-inflammatory effects together with discussion of the data about observed biological activities with regards to the current concepts on the HTs’ bioavailability and metabolism.
Orally administered HT-containing products due to the limited bioavailability of ellagitannins and gallotannins can influence immune response at the level of gastrointestinal tract as well as express modulating effects on the gut microbiota composition. However, due to the chemical changes being a result of their transit through gastrointestinal tract, comprising of hydrolysis and gut microbiota metabolism, the activity of produced metabolites has to be taken into consideration. Studies regarding biological effects of the HTs’ metabolites, in particular urolithins, indicate their strong and structure-dependent anti-inflammatory activities, being observed at the concentrations, which fit the range of their established bioavailability.
The impact of HTs on inflammatory processes has been well established on various in vivo and in vitro models, while influence of microbiota metabolites on silencing the immune response gives a new perspective on understanding anti-inflammatory effects attributed to HT containing products, especially their postulated effectiveness in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and cardiovascular diseases.