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Clin Chem. 2011 Nov;57(11):1524-33. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.167361. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Purified anthocyanin supplementation improves endothelial function via NO-cGMP activation in hypercholesterolemic individuals.

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Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition, and Health, School of Public Health,SunYat-Sen University (Northern Campus), Guangzhou, China.



Anthocyanins have been shown to improve endothelial function in animal models. However, whether these compounds have similar beneficial effects in humans is largely unknown.


In a short-term crossover study, 12 hypercholesterolemic individuals were given oral anthocyanins (320 mg) isolated from berries or placebo. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was assessed before and after the intervention. In a long-term intervention trial (12 weeks), 150 hypercholesterolemic individuals were given anthocyanins (320 mg/day, n = 75) or placebo (n = 75), after which we measured FMD, plasma cGMP, and other serum biomarkers. Another short-term intervention was conducted in the presence of NO-cGMP inhibitors in 6 people and in a rat aortic ring model (n = 8).


Significant increases of FMD from 8.3% (0.6%) at baseline to 11.0% (0.8%) at 1 h and 10.1% (0.9%) at 2 h were observed after short-term anthocyanin consumption, concomitantly with increases of plasma anthocyanin concentrations (P < 0.05). In the study participants who received long-term anthocyanin intervention, compared with the control group, we observed significant increases in the FMD (28.4% vs 2.2%), cGMP (12.6% vs -1.2%), and HDL-cholesterol concentrations, but decreases in the serum soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 and LDL cholesterol concentrations (P < 0.05). The changes in the cGMP and HDL cholesterol concentrations positively correlated with FMD in the anthocyanin group (P < 0.05). In the presence of NO-cGMP inhibitors, the effects of anthocyanin on endothelial function were abolished in human participants and in a rat aortic ring model.


Anthocyanin supplementation improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypercholesterolemic individuals. This effect involves activation of the NO-cGMP signaling pathway, improvements in the serum lipid profile, and decreased inflammation.

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