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Anthocyanins and phenolic acids from a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) powder counteract lipid accumulation in THP-1-derived macrophages



Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins (ACNs) and phenolic acids (PA), which are hypothesized to protect against development of atherosclerosis. The present study examined the effect of an ACN- and PA-rich fractions, obtained from a wild blueberry powder, on the capacity to counteract lipid accumulation in macrophages derived from monocytic THP-1 cells. In addition, we tested the capacity of pure ACNs and their metabolites to alter lipid accumulation.


THP-1-derived macrophages were incubated with fatty acids (500 μM oleic/palmitic acid, 2:1 ratio) and different concentrations (from 0.05 to 10 μg mL−1) of ACN- and PA-rich fractions, pure ACN standards (malvidin, delphinidin and cyanidin 3-glucoside), and metabolites (syringic, gallic and protocatechuic acids). Lipid accumulation was quantified with the fluorescent dye Nile red.


Lipid accumulation was reduced at all concentrations of the ACN-rich fraction tested with a maximum reduction at 10 μg mL−1 (−27.4 %; p < 0.0001). The PA-rich fraction significantly reduced the lipid accumulation only at the low concentrations from 0.05 µg mL−1 to 0.3 µg mL−1, with respect to the control with fatty acids. Supplementation with pure ACN compounds (malvidin and delphinidin-3-glucoside and its metabolic products (syringic and gallic acid)) reduced lipid accumulation especially at the low concentrations, while no significant effect was observed after cyanidin-3-glucoside and protocatechuic acid supplementation.


The results demonstrated a potential role of both the ACN- and PA-rich fractions and single compounds in the lipid accumulation also at concentrations close to that achievable in vivo.

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None of the authors had a personal or financial conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Patrizia Riso.

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Del Bo’, C., Cao, Y., Roursgaard, M. et al. Anthocyanins and phenolic acids from a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) powder counteract lipid accumulation in THP-1-derived macrophages. Eur J Nutr 55, 171–182 (2016).

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  • Wild blueberry
  • Polyphenols
  • THP-1 macrophages
  • Lipid accumulation