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Stevia: The Genus Stevia (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Industrial Profiles)
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Stevioside and rebaudioside A were incubated for 72 h under anaerobic conditions with fecal suspensions provided by six male and five female volunteers aged 20 to 50 years. Stevioside completely degraded to steviol in a h period. Steviolbioside a metabolite of rebaudioside A and stevioside concentration peaked after 2 to 4 h of incubation, and then decreased to zero with steviol detected after 3 to 4 h of incubation. These results suggest that stevioside was initially hydrolyzed to steviolbioside and then this intermediate was subsequently metabolized to steviol.
After a period of 6 to 7 h, rebaudioside A was hydrolyzed to steviolbioside and completely metabolized to steviol after 24 h. The results of this study do not elucidate whether rebaudioside A preferentially hydrolyzes to rebaudioside B or stevioside before further hydrolysis to steviolbioside. Steviol remained unchanged during the h incubation and no other metabolites were observed.
No steviol epoxide derivatives were found after incubation of rebaudioside A or stevioside samples with intestinal microflora from 11 human volunteers Gardana et al. Analysis of fecal samples indicated that stevioside was completely converted to steviol; however, no stevioside or steviol was detected in blood samples. When intestinal transport was investigated using the Caco-2 system, only a small fraction of stevioside and rebaudioside A apparent permeability coefficient, P app of 0.
The authors attribute the discrepancy between relatively high absorptive transport in the Caco-2 system and the absence of steviol in blood samples following repeated oral intake by pigs to the fact that in the in vitro system steviol is in solution in direct contact with the Caco-2 cell layer, whereas in vivo steviol probably is absorbed to the contents of the colon Geuns et al.
Rebaudioside A and stevioside are hydrolyzed in vitro relatively slowly by sequential removal of glucose units by animal and human lower intestinal microflora and there is evidence that stevioside hydrolyzes similarly in vivo. Hydrolysis by lower intestinal microflora in vitro is time- and concentration-dependent for rebaudioside A and stevioside, suggesting the degradation pathways are saturated at higher concentrations.
Complete hydrolysis to steviol by lower intestinal microflora in vitro takes place more slowly for rebaudioside A than stevioside, probably because of its longer degradation pathway. Transit time through the gastrointestinal tract may limit the opportunity for animal and human microflora to convert rebaudioside A to steviol as compared to the more rapidly degrading stevioside.
Rebaudioside A and stevioside probably are not well absorbed by animals or humans based on low apparent permeability coefficient results with the Caco-2 system. Steviol with a high apparent permeability coefficient with the Caco-2 system, appears as though it could be absorbed readily, although in vivo results in pigs suggest steviol is not efficiently absorbed. In a type 2 diabetic animal model, rebaudioside A does not demonstrate insulinotropic, glucagonostatic, antihyperglycemic, or blood pressure lowering effects, which have been reported in similar studies with stevioside.
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The results of the present study as well as data reviewed for metabolism, absorption, and pharmacological end points verify the safety of rebaudioside A for human dietary use in foods. The authors thank Stevian Biotechnology Corp.
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