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Chocolate procyanidins decrease the leukotriene-prostacyclin ratio in humans and human aortic endothelial cells.

Publisher: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Authors: Schramm, D. D.; Wang, J. F.; Holt, R. R.; Ensunsa, J. L.; Gonsalves, J. L.; Lazarus, S. A.; Schmitz, H. H.; German, J. B.; Keen, C. L.


Polyphenolic phytochemicals inhibit vascular and inflammatory processes that contribute to disease. These effects are hypothesized to result from polyphenol-mediated alterations in cellular eicosanoid synthesis.

The objective was to determine and compare the ability of cocoa procyanidins to alter eicosanoid synthesis in human subjects and cultured human aortic endothelial cells.

After an overnight fast, 10 healthy subjects (4 men and 6 women) consumed 37 g low-procyanidin (0.09 mg/g) and high-procyanidin (4.0 mg/g) chocolate; the treatments were separated by 1 wk. The investigation had a randomized, blinded, crossover design. Plasma samples were collected before treatment and 2 and 6 h after treatment. Eicosanoids were quantitated by enzyme immunoassay.Endothelial cells were treated in vitro with procyanidins to determine whether the effects of procyanidin in vivo were associated with procyanidin-induced alterations in endothelial cell eicosanoid synthesis.

Relative to the effects of the low-procyanidin chocolate, high-procyanidin chocolate induced increases in plasma prostacyclin (32%; P<0.05) and decreases in plasma leukotrienes (29%; P<0.04). After the in vitro procyanidin treatments, aortic endothelial cells synthesized twice as much 6-keto-prostaglandin F(1alpha) (P<0.01) and 16% less leukotriene (P<0.05) as did control cells. The in vitro and in vivo effects of procyanidins on plasma leukotriene-prostacyclin ratios in culture medium were also comparable: decreases of 58% and 52%, respectively.

Data from this short-term investigation support the concept that certain food-derived flavonoids can favorably alter eicosanoid synthesis in humans, providing a plausible hypothesis for a mechanism by which they can decrease platelet activation in humans.

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