European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 49, Issue 6, pp 345–355 | Cite as

Bilberry juice modulates plasma concentration of NF-κB related inflammatory markers in subjects at increased risk of CVD

  • Anette Karlsen
  • Ingvild Paur
  • Siv K. Bøhn
  • Amrit K. Sakhi
  • Grethe I. Borge
  • Mauro Serafini
  • Iris Erlund
  • Petter Laake
  • Serena Tonstad
  • Rune Blomhoff
Original Contribution



Bilberries are abundant in polyphenols. Dietary polyphenols have been associated with strategies for prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. We investigated the effect of bilberry juice on serum and plasma biomarkers of inflammation and antioxidant status in subjects with elevated levels of at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD).


In a randomized controlled trial, participants consumed either bilberry juice (n = 31) or water (n = 31) for 4 weeks.


Supplementation with bilberry juice resulted in significant decreases in plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-15, and monokine induced by INF-γ (MIG). Unexpectedly, an increase in the plasma concentration of tumor nuclear factor-α (TNF-α) was observed in the bilberry group. CRP, IL-6, IL15, MIG, and TNF-α are all target genes of nuclear factor- kappa B (NF-κB), —a transcription factor that is crucial in orchestrating inflammatory responses. Plasma quercetin and p-coumaric acid increased in the bilberry group, otherwise no differences were observed for clinical parameters, oxidative stress or antioxidant status. Furthermore, we studied the effect of polyphenols from bilberries on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced NF-κB activation in a monocytic cell line. We observed that quercetin, epicatechin, and resveratrol inhibited NF-κB activation.


These findings suggest that supplementation with bilberry polyphenols may modulate the inflammation processes. Further testing of bilberry supplementation as a potential strategy in prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases is warranted.


Bilberry NF-κB Cytokines Polyphenols Human intervention Cell culture 



Cardiovascular disease


C-reactive protein




Monokine induced by INF-γ


Regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted


Tumor nuclear factor-α


Nuclear factor-kappa B




Blood pressure


Low-density lipoprotein


High density lipoprotein


Standardized reference materials


Ferric reducing/antioxidant power


Total peroxyl-radical trapping activity


Trolox equivalents


Oxygen radical absorbance capacity


Perchloric acid


Ascorbic acid


Dehydroascorbic acid


Total ascorbic acid


High performance liquid chromatography




Diacrons reactive oxygen metabolites


White blood cells



Supplementary material

394_2010_92_MOESM1_ESM.doc (70 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 70 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anette Karlsen
    • 1
  • Ingvild Paur
    • 1
  • Siv K. Bøhn
    • 1
  • Amrit K. Sakhi
    • 1
  • Grethe I. Borge
    • 2
  • Mauro Serafini
    • 3
  • Iris Erlund
    • 4
  • Petter Laake
    • 5
  • Serena Tonstad
    • 6
  • Rune Blomhoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Nofima Mat ASÅsNorway
  3. 3.Antioxidant Research Laboratory, Unit of Human NutritionINRANRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Chronic Disease PreventionNational Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  6. 6.Department of Preventive CardiologyUllevaal University HospitalOsloNorway

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