Background: Rosmarinic acid (RA) is a natural polyphenolic substance contained in many Lamiaceae herbs such as Perilla frutescens. Previous studies have shown RA has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity. However, little is known on the absorption, metabolism, degradation and excretion of RA. Aim of the study: The aim of this study in healthy humans was to determine the absorption, metabolism, and urinary excretion of RA after a single intake of perilla extract (PE). Method: Six healthy men (mean age 37.2 ± 6.2 y and mean body mass index 22.0 ± 1.9 kg/m2) were enrolled in the study that was a crossover design involving single intakes of PE containing 200 mg RA and placebo with a 10 day interval between treatments. Blood samples were collected before intake and at designated time intervals, while urine samples were collected over the periods 0-6 h, 6-24 h and 24-48 h after intake. RA and its related metabolites in plasma and urine were measured by LC-MS. Results: RA, methylated RA (methyl-RA), caffeic acid (CAA), ferulic acid (FA) and a trace of m-coumaric acid (COA) were detected in the urine after intake of PE. In plasma, RA, methyl-RA and FA were detected, with maximum levels obtained 0.5, 2 and 0.5 h after intake of PE, respectively. The majority of these components in both plasma and urine were present as conjugated forms (glucuronide and/or sulfated). The proportion of RA and its related metabolites excreted in the urine was 6.3 ± 2.2% of the total dose, with approximately 75% of these components being excreted within 6 h after intake of PE. Conclusions: RA contained in PE was absorbed, conjugated and methylated following intake, with a small proportion of RA being degraded into various components, such as conjugated forms of CAA, FA and COA. These metabolites were then rapidly excreted in the urine.
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