Polyphenols, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease


Polyphenols are compounds found in foods such as tea, coffee, cocoa, olive oil, and red wine and have been studied to determine if their intake may modify cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Historically, biologic actions of polyphenols have been attributed to antioxidant activities, but recent evidence suggests that immunomodulatory and vasodilatory properties of polyphenols may also contribute to CVD risk reduction. These properties will be discussed, and recent epidemiological evidence and intervention trials will be reviewed. Further identification of polyphenols in foods and accurate assessment of exposures through measurement of biomarkers (i.e., polyphenol metabolites) could provide the needed impetus to examine the impact of polyphenol-rich foods on CVD intermediate outcomes (especially those signifying chronic inflammation) and hard endpoints among high risk patients. Although we have mechanistic insight into how polyphenols may function in CVD risk reduction, further research is needed before definitive recommendations for consumption can be made.

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Christy Tangney declares that she has no conflicts of interest.

Heather E. Rasmussen declares that she has no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Christy C. Tangney.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Vascular Biology

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Tangney, C.C., Rasmussen, H.E. Polyphenols, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep 15, 324 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11883-013-0324-x

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  • Polyphenols
  • Inflammation
  • Olive oil
  • Flavonoid
  • Phenolic acids
  • Flow-mediated vasodilation
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Cell signaling
  • Adhesion markers