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J Nutr. 2011 Apr 1;141(4):618-25. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.133843. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Selected dietary flavonoids are associated with markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in U.S. women.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden.


Flavonoids show antiinflammatory effects in vitro and human intervention studies have suggested beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial function. In the present study, we assessed the relationship between flavonoid intake and biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in a cross-sectional study of participants from the Nurses' Health Study cohort. Intake of 6 flavonoid subclasses (flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanidins, and polymeric flavonoids) was assessed using a FFQ administered in 1990. Also, the main food sources of these flavonoids were examined. Blood samples were collected in 1989-1990 and plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), IL-6, IL-18, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 (sTNF-R2), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), and E-selectin were measured in 1194-1598 women. The multivariate-adjusted geometric mean of plasma IL-8 were lower for women in the highest intake quintile of flavones, flavanones, and total flavonoids compared with those in the lowest quintiles by 9% (Q1: 264 ng/L, Q5: 241 ng/L; P-trend = 0.019), 11% (Q1: 273 ng/L, Q5: 244 ng/L; P-trend = 0.011), and 8% (Q1: 276 ng/L, Q5: 55 ng/L; P-trend = 0.034), respectively. The multivariate-adjusted geometric mean for women in the highest intake quintile of flavonol compared with those in the lowest quintile was 4% lower for sVCAM-1 (Q1: 578 μg/L, Q5: 557 μg/L; P-trend = 0.012). Among flavonoid-rich foods, higher intake of grapefruit was significantly associated with lower concentrations of CRP and sTNF-R2. In summary, higher intakes of selected flavonoid subclasses were associated with modestly lower concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers. In particular, flavonoids typically found in citrus fruits were modestly associated with lower plasma IL-18 concentrations.

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