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Theabrownin from Pu-erh tea attenuates hypercholesterolemia via modulation of gut microbiota and bil

I learned that Pu-erh tea could reduce cholesterol for a long time. The last Queen Cixi in Qing dynasty loved Pu-erh tea very much, because she knew the tea could help her to digest meat which she also liked very much. Then I gradually get used to drink Pu-erh tea (Pu Er Cha, 普洱茶) almost every day. It was a great pleasure to read the newest research report published on Nature Communications on Oct. 31, 2019.

What is Theabrownin?

Theabrownin is one of the most active and abundant pigments in Pu-erh tea.

The research team from Shanghai Key Laboratory of Diabetes Mellitus and Center for Translational Medicine and Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People’s Hospital found that theabrownin altered the gut microbiota in mice and humans, predominantly suppressing microbes associated with bile-salt hydrolase (BSH) activity. Theabrownin increased the levels of ileal conjugated bile acids (BAs) which, in turn, inhibited the intestinal FXR-FGF15 signaling pathway, resulting in increased hepatic production and fecal excretion of BAs, reduced hepatic cholesterol, and decreased lipogenesis. The inhibition of intestinal FXR-FGF15 signaling was accompanied by increased gene expression of enzymes in the alternative BA synthetic pathway, production of hepatic chenodeoxycholic acid, activation of hepatic FXR, and hepatic lipolysis.

These results shed light into the mechanisms behind the cholesterol- and lipid-lowering effects of Pu-erh tea, and suggest that decreased intestinal BSH microbes and/or decreased FXR-FGF15 signaling may be potential anti-hypercholesterolemia and anti-hyperlipidemia therapies.


Huang, F., Zheng, X., Ma, X. et al. Theabrownin from Pu-erh tea attenuates hypercholesterolemia via modulation of gut microbiota and bile acid metabolism. Nat Commun 10, 4971 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12896-x

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