Reduction of Oxidative Stress in Human Body via Inhibitory Effect of Plant Phenolics on Circulating Neutrophils; Results of In Vitro and In Vivo Studies

Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Circulating neutrophils are the most numerous white blood cells. They can release large amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after activation with a variety of stimuli and this phenomenon is called the respiratory burst. Therefore, neutrophils can significantly contribute to the development of local and systemic oxidative stress in the course of inflammatory diseases with subsequent damage to tissues. The nature of respiratory burst consists in the activation of multi-protein complex, NADPH oxidase and its translocation to cell membranes that depends on phospholipases, numerous kinases and second messengers. NADPH oxidase catalyzes oxidation of NADPH with subsequent generation of superoxide radical which is converted into other more reactive oxidants. Many plant polyphenols were reported to suppress the respiratory burst of human neutrophils in vitro. Some of them revealed this activity at concentrations that can occur in vivo and inhibited the intracellular transduction of signal which activates NADPH oxidase. Clinical trials proved the decreased ROS production by neutrophils or decreased activity of neutrophil NADPH oxidase in subjects consuming fruits or beverages rich in anthocyanins (strawberry pulp, sour cherries, concentrated red grape juice, blueberry drink). Conversely, consumption of anthocyanin free orange juice or apples had no effect on ROS production by neutrophils. Ingested anthocyanins undergo an intensive first-pass metabolism in the intestines and liver with formation of numerous metabolites which can be present in blood for several dozen hours. They can be accumulated in granulopoietic cells of bone marrow and in circulating neutrophils leading to lower biosynthesis of NADPH oxidase subunits and the inhibition of intracellular pathways of NADPH oxidase activation. This can be the mechanism of health-promoting effect of consumption of fruits and beverages rich in anthocyanins.


Neutrophils Respiratory burst NADPH oxidase Plant polyphenols Anthocyanins Phenolic acids Reactive oxygen species Oxidative stress 

List of Abbreviations




concentration required for 50% inhibition


dihydronicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide phosphate


non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity




superoxide anion


phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate


reactive oxygen species


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Kidney TransplantationMedical University of LodzLodzPoland
  2. 2.Radiation Protection, University Hospital No 2Medical University of LodzLodzPoland
  3. 3.Department of Clinical PhysiologyMedical University of LodzLodzPoland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Halina Ekiert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of PharmacyJagiellonian University, Medical CollegeKrakówPoland

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