Cocoa flavanols and procyanidins can modulate the lipopolysaccharide activation of polymorphonuclear cells in vitro.
Flavanols and procyanidins isolated from cocoa have been reported to possess multiple activities potentially relevant to oxidant defenses, vascular function, and immune function. In a combination of in vivo and in vitro studies, we and others have observed that cocoa can be an anti-inflammatory modulator and that compounds in cocoa are capable of modulating eicosanoid production, platelet aggregation, and the pool size of nitric oxide. The present study extends these findings by examining the in vitro effects of cocoa procyanidins on polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs). PMNs, part of the innate arm of the immune system, represent 50-60% of the total peripheral white blood cells and are the first cells to be recruited to the sites of inflammation or injury secondary to bacterial infections. Herein, we demonstrate that certain flavanols and procyanidins isolated from cocoa can moderate a subset of signaling pathways derived from lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation of PMNs, mainly, PMN oxidative bursts and activation markers, and they can influence select apoptosis mechanisms. We hypothesize that flavanols and procyanidins can decrease the impact of LPS on the N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe-primed PMN ability to generate reactive oxygen species by partially interfering in activationof the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway.