Anthocyanins are reported to have vascular bioactivity, however their mechanisms of action are largely unknown. Evidence suggests that anthocyanins modulate endothelial function, potentially by increasing nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, or enhancing NO bioavailability. This study compared the activity of cyanidin-3-glucoside, its degradation product protocatechuic acid, and phase II metabolite, vanillic acid. Production of NO and superoxide and expression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), NADPH oxidase (NOX), and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were established in human vascular cell models. Nitric oxide levels were not modulated by the treatments, although eNOS was upregulated by cyanidin-3-glucoside, and superoxide production was decreased by both phenolic acids. Vanillic acid upregulated p22phox mRNA but did not alter NOX protein expression, although trends were observed for p47phox downregulation and HO-1 upregulation. Anthocyanin metabolites may therefore modulate vascular reactivity by inducing HO-1 and modulating NOX activity, resulting in reduced superoxide production and improved NO bioavailability.
- NADPH oxidase