Antioxidant activity and biologic properties of a procyanidin-rich extract from pine (Pinus maritima) bark, pycnogenol

Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Sep;27(5-6):704-24. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(99)00090-8.


There is growing interest in the biologic activities of plant extracts such as that obtained from the bark of the French maritime pine Pinus maritima, Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol (PYC) is a standardized extract composed of a mixture of flavonoids, mainly procyandins and phenolic acids. Studies indicate that PYC components are highly bioavailable. Uniquely PYC displays greater biologic effects as a mixture than its purified components do individually indicating that the components interact synergistically. PYC has been reported to have cardiovascular benefits, such as a vasorelaxant activity, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibiting activity, and the ability to enhance the microcirculation by increasing capillary permeability. Investigations of the cellular mechanisms of these therapeutic effects have demonstrated that PYC has strong free radical-scavenging activity against reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. The oligomeric components of PYC contribute significantly to the ESR free radical signal. PYC also participates in the cellular antioxidant network as indicated by its ability to regenerate the ascorbyl radical and to protect endogenous vitamin E and glutathione from oxidative stress. PYC modulates NO metabolism in activated macrophages by quenching the NO radical and inhibiting both iNOS mRNA expression and iNOS activity. The spectrum of different effects of NO in the circulation and the nervous system suggest the potential applications of PYC in immune and circulatory disorders as well as in neurodegenerative disease. PYC can bind to proteins, altering their structure and thereby modulating the activity of key enzymes and proteins involved in metabolic pathways. PYC effects redox-sensitive signal transduction pathways and alters gene expression. Aspects of PYC's activity are presented and discussed together with possible future implications and directions in the field of flavonoid research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Biflavonoids*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Catechin / analysis*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • France
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Proanthocyanidins*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Biflavonoids
  • Flavonoids
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Plant Extracts
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Vitamin E
  • procyanidin
  • pycnogenols
  • Catechin