• Katie Floyd

Anthocyanins and Their Role in Metabolic Disorders and Gut Microbiota

Updated: Apr 15

Diabetes has become one of the most common metabolic disorders with approximately 34.2 million Americans, of all ages, currently diagnosed with the disease. That’s over 10% of the U.S. population. And around 90-95% of diabetes patients have Type 2 diabetes, which is characterized as insulin resistance (1).

According to a study by Huang, et al., several genetic and environmental factors can cause Type 2 diabetes, but the Western diet heavy in sugar and fat “plays a crucial role” in the epidemic. They go on to say that Type 2 diabetes is associated with “low-grade chronic inflammation” and there is evidence suggesting that gut microbiota “plays an important role in the development of diabetes, obesity and inflammation (2).”

The purpose of their study was to evaluate and compare the effects of freeze-dried cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) and Saskatoon berry powder (SBp) on metabolism, inflammatory markers, and gut microbiota in high fat-high sucrose (HFHS) diet-induced insulin-resistant mice.

Cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) is an anthocyanin found in red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables. Saskatoon berry fruits contain at least four types of anthocyanins, the two most prevalent being cyanidin-3-galactoside and cyanidin-3-glucoside (2). In addition to the Saskatoon berries used in this study, many other dark-colored fruits and vegetables, such as purple corn, have a high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors found in fruits and vegetables (3).

For the study, mice were randomly placed into four groups and received one of following diets for 11 weeks:

*SBp was prepared from lyophilized Smoky Saskatoon berries and purified C3G was obtained from Polyphenols.

Measurements and samples were collected during and upon conclusion of the study, analyzed, and several results were obtained. Some of the more notable results from the study include:

(1) Mice supplemented with C3G had significantly reduced hyperglycemia, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, inflammatory markers, and gut dysbiosis induced by the HFHS diet. Similar results were found with mice treated with SBp containing a comparable amount of C3G

(2) The HFHS diet supplemented with C3G (group 4) increased the amount of Bacteroidetes phylum bacteria and decreased the amount of Firmicutes phylum bacteria compared to the HFHS diet alone (group 2)

(3) Mice supplemented with C3G increased the amount of Muribaculaceae bacteria, a family of bacteria prevalent and abundant in the gut microbiome of mammals. The Muribaculaceae bacteria in mice supplemented with SBp had a similar effect, but the impact of C3G on several other types of family bacteria differed from that in mice who received SBp.

(4) The results of “functional prediction analysis” implied that C3G supplementation reduced the amount of gut microbial genes that are involved in producing inflammation and “enhanced” gut microbial genes that are involved in metabolic processes for mice on the HFHS diet.

Based on the results of this study, researchers concluded that C3G and SBp are both potential prebiotics because they helped alleviate HFHS “Western” diet-induced disorders involving metabolism, inflammation, and gut dysbiosis. Supplementation of C3G and SBp had similar benefits on HFHS diet-induced disorders in the mice.

The full study can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7464758/


(1) National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 28, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html

(2) Huang, F., Zhao, R., Xia, M., & Shen, G. X. (2020). Impact of Cyanidin-3-Glucoside on Gut Microbiota and Relationship with Metabolism and Inflammation in High Fat-High Sucrose Diet-Induced Insulin Resistant Mice. Microorganisms, 8(8), 1238. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8081238

(3) Khoo, H. E., Azlan, A., Tang, S. T., & Lim, S. M. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1361779. https://doi.org/10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779

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