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J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Jan;21(1):14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.09.005. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Dietary enrichment with wild blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) affects the vascular reactivity in the aorta of young spontaneously hypertensive rats.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA.


We have previously reported on the positive effects of wild blueberries on arterial contractile response to alpha(1) adrenergic stimuli and on endothelium-mediated vasorelaxation. Our present study was designed to evaluate the effects of the dietary enrichment with wild blueberries on aortic function and reactivity in the developmental phase of essential hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). We investigated the possible influence blueberries may have on the acetylcholine (Ach)-induced endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction in young SHRs, as well as the contribution of the nitric oxide (NO) synthase and cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways in each of the above responses in an animal model with dysfunctional endothelium. Vascular ring studies were conducted in 3-mm isolated rat aortic ring preparations to investigate vasoconstriction induced by l-Phenylephrine (Phe, 10(-8) to 3x10(-6)M) and vasorelaxation induced by acetylcholine (Ach, 10(-9) to 3x10(-6)M). The major findings of our study were that in Phe-induced vasoconstriction, SHR-BB aortas relaxed to a greater degree in comparison to controls when mefenamic acid (MFA) was present and that the incubation with this COX inhibitor failed to restore - and in fact decreased - the maximum vasodilator response to Ach, in comparison to controls. Our vessel reactivity index (pD(2)) observations indicate that blueberries appear to modulate cell membrane-agonist (Ach) interactions primarily in response to Ach in the young SHR model, but not to the alpha(1) adrenoreceptor agonist. Incorporating wild blueberries in the diet seems to affect the endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation by modulating alternative metabolic pathway(s) (such as affecting the production/activity of COX-derived products) in the young SHR aorta.

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