Orally administered rosmarinic acid is present as the conjugated and/or methylated forms in plasma, and is degraded and metabolized to conjugated forms of caffeic acid, ferulic acid and m-coumaric acid

Seigo Baba, Naomi Osakabe, Midori Natsume, Junji Terao

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Rosmarinic acid (RA) is contained in various Lamiaceae herbs used commonly as culinary herbs. Although RA has various potent physiological actions, little is known on its bioavailability. We therefore investigated the absorption and metabolism of orally administered RA in rats. After being deprived of food for 12 h, RA (50 mg/kg body weight) or deionized water was administered orally to rats. Blood samples were collected from a cannula inserted in the femoral artery before and at designated time intervals after administration of RA. Urine excreted within 0 to 8 h and 8 to 18 h post-administration was also collected. RA and its related metabolites in plasma and urine were measured by LC-MS after treatment with sulfatase and/or β-glucuronidase. RA, mono-methylated RA (methyl-RA) and m-coumaric acid (COA) were detected in plasma, with peak concentrations being reached at 0.5, 1 and 8 h after RA administration, respectively. RA, methyl-RA, caffeic acid (CAA), ferulic acid (FA) and COA were detected in urine after RA administration. These components in plasma and urine were present predominantly as conjugated forms such as glucuronide or sulfate. The percentage of the original oral dose of RA excreted in the urine within 18 h of administration as free and conjugated forms was 0.44 ± 0.21% for RA, 1.60 ± 0.74% for methyl-RA, 1.06 ± 0.35% for CAA, 1.70 ± 0.45% for FA and 0.67 ± 0.29% for COA. Approximately 83% of the total amount of these metabolites was excreted in the period 8 to 18 h after RA administration. These results suggest that RA was absorbed and metabolized as conjugated and/or methylated forms, and that the majority of RA absorbed was degraded into conjugated and/or methylated forms of CAA, FA and COA before being excreted gradually in the urine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004 May 28



  • Absorption
  • Degradation
  • Excretion
  • Rat
  • Rosmarinic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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