In addition to the commonly used classification as hydrolyzable tannins and condensed tannins, tannins can also be categorized into two other types: polyphenols of constant chemical structure (Type A) and polyphenols of variable composition (Type B). Both types of tannins and related polyphenols account for a large part of plant polyphenols, but accurate structure-activity correlations on a molecular basis can be determined mainly for type A compounds, among which are hydrolysable tannins such as the ellagitannins and their oxidized congeners, some gallotannins, epigallocatechin gallate, caffetannins, etc.
Among the activities determined on a molecular basis are the chemical, biological and pharmacological actions such as superoxide anion scavenging, apoptosis, antitumor, anti-EVB, anti-MRSA and anti-plasmin inhibitory activities, etc.
, in addition to their fundamental activities, i.e.
, binding to proteins, large molecular compounds and metallic ions, and antioxidant activities. Some structure-specific activities were found for the condensation of dehydroellagitannins with co-existing compounds under mild conditions, and the host-mediated antitumor actions of ellagitannin oligomers. Structures and activities of metabolites of geraniin, a dehydroellagitannin, were revealed. Some stilbenoids and phlorotannins of firm structures have been known to have many activities similar to those of the type A tannins.