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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2006 Jan;50(1):44-51.

Anthocyanidins decrease endothelin-1 production and increase endothelial nitric oxide synthase in human endothelial cells.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Sez. Patologia Generale, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy.


Epidemiological and intervention studies correlate anthocyanin-rich beverages and a low incidence of coronary heart diseases. Since endothelin-1 (ET-1) and nitric oxide (NO) produced by endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) are vascular tension regulators secreted by endothelial cells, we studied the influence of two anthocyanidins, namely cyanidin (CY) and delphinidin (DP), on the regulation of ET-1 and eNOS in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Aglycon anthocyanidin forms, such as CY and DP, may be present in vivo after the first deglycosylation step occurring in the jejunum and in the liver. DP showed a major action compared to CY inducing a significant dose-dependent inhibitory effect on both protein and mRNA levels of ET-1. CY and DP both increased the protein level of eNOS, but DP showed the major effect raising eNOS protein in a dose-dependent manner. To correlate the vasoprotective effect of CY and DP with their antioxidant activity, we analysed also the antioxidant effect of anthocyanidins both in vitro and in HUVECs. In particular, we examined the effect of anthocyanidins on endothelial heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inducible stress protein. In all tests, DP showed a higher antioxidant activity than CY. Finally, the antiproliferative effect induced by DP was detected in HUVECs. DP and CY differ in the number and position of hydroxyl groups in their structure; therefore, the greater biological activity by DP, compared with CY, seems to be due to the presence of the three hydroxyl groups on the B ring in the molecular structure of DP.

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