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Pharmacol Res. 2014 Jan;79:28-33. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2013.11.004. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

The cocoa flavanol (-)-epicatechin protects the cortisol response.

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Department of Toxicology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Department of Toxicology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Various health benefits of the cocoa flavanol (-)-epicatechin (EC) have been attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potency. In the present study we investigated whether EC is able to prevent deterioration of the anti-inflammatory effect of the glucocorticoid (GC) cortisol in the presence of oxidative stress. It was found that cortisol reduces inflammation in differentiated monocytes. Oxidative stress extinguishes the anti-inflammatory effect of cortisol, leading to cortisol resistance. EC reduces intracellular oxidative stress as well as the development of cortisol resistance. This further deciphers the enigmatic mechanism of EC by which it exerts its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. The observed effect of the cocoa flavanol EC will especially be of relevance in pathophysiological conditions with increased oxidative stress and consequential GC resistance and provides a fundament for the rational use of dietary antioxidants.


(−)-Epicatechin; (−)-Epicatechin (PubChem CID: 72276); (−)-epicatechin; 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein-diacetate; 7-Mono-O-(β-hydroxyethyl)-rutoside (PubChem CID 5464100); AP1; Anti-oxidant; COPD; Cortisol; Cortisol (PubChem CID 5754); DCFH-DA; EC; GC; GCR; Glucocorticoid resistance; IL-8; Inflammation; LDH; LPS; MH; Monocytes; NF-κB; PMA; Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate; ROS; SRB; TNF; activator protein-1; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; glucocorticoid; glucocorticoid receptor; interleukin-8; lactate dehydrogenase; lipopolysaccharides; monoHER, 7-mono-O-(β-hydroxyethyl)-rutoside; nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells; reactive oxygen species; sulforhodamine B; tumor necrosis factor

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