Phenolic metabolites of anthocyanins modulate mechanisms of endothelial function

Michael Edwards, Charles Czank, Gary Woodward, Aedin Cassidy, Colin Kay (Lead Author)

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2423–2431
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number9
Early online date16 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2015


  • endothelium
  • eNOS
  • cyanidin
  • NADPH oxidase

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