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January 2003


Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study.

Flavonoids are polyphenolic antioxidants naturally present in vegetables, fruits and beverages such as tea and wine. In vitro, flavonoids inhibit oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and reduce thrombotic tendency, but their effects on atherosclerotic complications in human beings are unknown. We measured the content in various foods of the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, apigenin and luteolin. We then assessed the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 65 to 84 years in 1985 by a cross-check dietary history; the men were then followed up for five years. Mean baseline flavonoid intake was 25.9 mg daily. The major sources of intake were tea (61%), onions (13%) and apples (10%). Between 1985 and 1990, 43 men died of coronary heart disease. Fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction occurred in 38 of 693 men with no history of myocardial infarction at baseline. Flavonoid intake (analysed in tertiles) was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease (p for trend = 0.015) and showed an inverse relation with incidence of myocardial infarction, which was of borderline significance (p for trend = 0.08). The relative risk of coronary heart disease mortality in the highest versus the lowest tertile of flavonoid intake was 0.42 (95% CI 0.20-0.88). After adjustment for age, body-mass index, smoking, serum total and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure, physical activity, coffee consumption, and intake of energy, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and dietary fibre, the risk was still significant (0.32 [0.15-0.71]). Intakes of tea, onions and apples were also inversely related to coronary heart disease mortality, but these associations were weaker. Flavonoids in regularly consumed foods may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men.

Lancet 1993 Oct 23;342(8878):1007-11

Quercetin inhibits Shc- and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-mediated c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation by angiotensin II in cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells.

Angiotensin II (Ang II) induces vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) hypertrophy, which results in various cardiovascular diseases. Ang II-induced cellular events have been implicated, in part, in the activation of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases. Although it has been proposed that daily intake of bioflavonoids belonging to polyphenols reduces the incidence of ischemic heart diseases (known as "French paradox"), the precise mechanisms of efficacy have not been elucidated. Thus, we hypothesized that bioflavonoids may affect Ang II-induced MAP kinase activation in cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells (RASMC). Our findings showed that Ang II stimulated rapid and significant activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38 in RASMC. Ang II-induced JNK activation was inhibited by 3,3',4',5,7-pentahydroxyflavone (quercetin), a major bioflavonoid in foods of plant origin, whereas ERK1/2 and p38 activation by Ang II were not affected by quercetin. Ang II caused a rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of Src homology and collagen (Shc), which was inhibited by quercetin. Quercetin also inhibited Ang II-induced Shc.p85 association and subsequent activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt pathway in RASMC. Furthermore, LY294002, a PI3-K inhibitor and a quercetin derivative, inhibited Ang II-induced JNK activation as well as Akt phosphorylation. Finally, Ang II-induced [(3)H]leucine incorporation was abolished by both quercetin and LY294002. These findings suggest that the preventing effect of quercetin on Ang II-induced VSMC hypertrophy are attributable, in part, to its inhibitory effect on Shc- and PI3-K-dependent JNK activation in VSMC. Thus, inhibition of JNK by quercetin may imply its usefulness for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases relevant to VSMC growth.

Mol Pharmacol 2001 Oct;60(4):656-65

Quercetin inhibits human vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration.

BACKGROUND: The French paradox has been associated with regular intake of red wine, which is enriched with flavonoids. Quercetin, a flavonoid present in the human diet, exerts cardiovascular protection through its antioxidant properties. We hypothesized that the beneficial effect of quercetin also could be related to the inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration. METHODS: Human aortic smooth muscle cells (AoSMC) were grown in culture in the presence of serum. Quercetin inhibited the serum-induced proliferation of AoSMC. This inhibition was dose-dependent and not attributed to toxicity. Cell cycle analysis revealed that quercetin arrested AoSMC in the G(0)/G(1) phase. The effect of quercetin on AoSMC migration was examined using explant migration and Transwell migration assays. Quercetin significantly decreased migration in both assays in a consistent manner. Finally, Western blot analysis of AoSMC exposed to quercetin demonstrated a significant reduction in the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, a signaling pathway associated with the migration of vascular smooth muscle cells. CONCLUSIONS: Quercetin inhibits the proliferation and migration of AoSMC, concomitant with inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation. These findings provide new insights and a rationale for the potential use of quercetin in the prophylaxis of cardiovascular diseases.

Surgery 2002 Feb;131(2):198-204


Carnosine protects against excitotoxic cell death independently of effects on reactive oxygen species.

The role of carnosine, N-acetylcarnosine and homocarnosine as scavengers of reactive oxygen species and protectors against neuronal cell death secondary to excitotoxic concentrations of kainate and N-methyl-D-aspartate was studied using acutely dissociated cerebellar granule cell neurons and flow cytometry. We find that carnosine, N-acetylcarnosine and homocarnosine at physiological concentrations are all potent in suppressing fluorescence of 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein, which reacts with intra-cellularly generated reactive oxygen species. However, only carnosine in the same concentration range was effective in preventing apoptotic neuronal cell death, studied using a combination of the DNA binding dye, propidium iodide, and a fluorescent derivative of the phosphatidylserine-binding dye, Annexin-V. Our results indicate that carnosine and related compounds are effective scavengers of reactive oxygen species generated by activation of ionotropic glutamate receptors, but that this action does not prevent excitotoxic cell death. Some other process, which is sensitive to carnosine but not the related compounds, is a critical factor in cell death. These observations indicate that at least in this system reactive oxygen species generation is not a major contributor to excitotoxic neuronal cell death.

Neuroscience 1999;94(2):571-7

Carnosine reacts with a glycated protein.

Oxidation and glycation induce formation of carbonyl (CO) groups in proteins, a characteristic of cellular aging. The dipeptide carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) is often found in long-lived mammalian tissues at relatively high concentrations (up to 20 mM). Previous studies show that carnosine reacts with low-molecular-weight aldehydes and ketones. We examine here the ability of carnosine to react with ovalbumin CO groups generated by treatment of the protein with methylglyoxal (MG). Incubation of MG-treated protein with carnosine accelerated a slow decline in CO groups as measured by dinitrophenylhydrazine reactivity. Incubation of [(14)C]-carnosine with MG-treated ovalbumin resulted in a radiolabeled precipitate on addition of trichloroacetic acid (TCA); this was not observed with control, untreated protein. The presence of lysine or N-(alpha)-acetylglycyl-lysine methyl ester caused a decrease in the TCA-precipitable radiolabel. Carnosine also inhibited cross-linking of the MG-treated ovalbumin to lysine and normal, untreated alpha-crystallin. We conclude that carnosine can react with protein CO groups (termed "carnosinylation") and thereby modulate their deleterious interaction with other polypeptides. It is proposed that, should similar reactions occur intra-cellularly, then carnosine's known "anti-aging" actions might, at least partially, be explained by the dipeptide facilitating the inactivation/removal of deleterious proteins bearing carbonyl groups.

Free Radic Biol Med 2000 May 15;28(10):1564-70

Carnosine prevents the activation of free-radical lipid oxidation during stress.

Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) injected to intact albino rats (20 mg/kg body weight) induces depletion of lipid peroxidation (LPO) products in brain and blood serum, an increase of superoxide scavenging activity in brain and serum, decrease of cholesterol: phospholipid ratio and increase of easy oxidizable phospholipid portion in brain lipid extracts. After painful stress (footshock during two hours) LPO products are accumulated in brain and serum, cholesterol: phospholipid ratio increases and the portion of easy oxidizable phospholipids decreases. Carnosine given before stress prevents LPO activation. Effects of carnosine and stress are not additive: LPO inhibition induced by carnosine is much more in rats subjected to stress.

Biull Eksp Biol Med 1989 Feb;107(2):144-7

Vitamin Supplementation

Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer.

Ascorbic acid metabolism is associated with a number of mechanisms known to be involved in host resistance to malignant disease. Cancer patients are significantly depleted of ascorbic acid, and in our opinion this demonstrable biochemical characteristic indicates a substantially increased requirement and utilization of this substance to potentiate these various host resistance factors. The results of a clinical trial are presented in which 100 terminal cancer patients were given supplemental ascorbate as part of their routine management. Their progress is compared to that of 1000 similar patients treated identically, but who received no supplemental ascorbate. The mean survival time is more than 4.2 times as great for the ascorbate subjects (more than 210 days) as for the controls (50 days). Analysis of the survival-time curves indicates that deaths occur for about 90% of the ascorbate-treated patients at one-third the rate for the controls and that the other 10% have a much greater survival time, averaging more than 20 times that for the controls. The results clearly indicate that this simple and safe form of medication is of definite value in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1976 Oct;73(10):3685-9