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Effects of dietary polyphenols on gene expression in human vascular endothelial cells

  • Sonja K. Nicholson (a1), Gregory A. Tucker (a1) and John M. Brameld (a1)

Previous studies have shown that consumption of fruit and vegetables plays a role in preventing the onset of CVD. These beneficial effects have been linked to the presence of polyphenolic compounds in plant-derived foods and their antioxidant capacity. It has been hypothesised that polyphenols may also have a direct effect on vascular endothelial cell growth and the expression of genes involved in angiogenesis and other roles of the endothelium. Previous studies in this area have tended to use concentrations of polyphenols that are supraphysiological (1–100 μm). The effects of more physiological concentrations (0·1 μm) of various individual polyphenols on gene expression were therefore investigated in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) using both microarray and quantitative RT–PCR methodologies. Treatment of HUVEC with ferulic acid, quercetin or resveratrol (0·1 μm) resulted in changes to gene expression that for the three treatments amounted to significant (>2-fold) down-regulation of the expression of 363 genes and significant (>2-fold) up-regulation of 233 genes of the 10 000 genes present on the microarray. The majority of these genes were affected by resveratrol. Quantitative RT–PCR studies indicated that resveratrol (0·1 μm) significantly increased the expression of the gene encoding endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), which synthesises the vasodilator molecule NO, and both resveratrol and quercetin decreased expression of the potent vasoconstrictor, endothelin-1 (ET-1), while ferulic acid had no effect. The effects of resveratrol (0·1 μm) were also investigated when HUVEC were under oxidative stress following treatment with H2O2 (0–50 μm), which dose-dependently increased expression of eNOS and ET-1. Resveratrol stimulated eNOS mRNA in the absence of H2O2 and still allowed the increase with H2O2, but the effects were not additive. In contrast, resveratrol blocked the stimulatory effect of H2O2 on ET-1 expression. Hence, resveratrol has potent effects at a physiological concentration (0·1 μm) that would be expected to result in vasodilation and therefore help reduce blood pressure and the risk of CVD.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Ms Sonja Nicholson, fax +44 115 9516122, email
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Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
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