Wine and endothelial function

Drugs Exp Clin Res. 2003;29(5-6):235-42.


In recent years many studies have focused on the well-known relationship between wine consumption and cardiovascular risk. Wine exerts its protective effects through various changes in lipoprotein profile, coagulation and fibrinolytic cascades, platelet aggregation, oxidative mechanisms and endothelial function. The last has earned more attention for its implications in atherogenesis. Endothelium regulates vascular tone by a delicate balancing among vasorelaxing (nitric oxide [NO]) and vasoconstrincting (endothelins) factors produced by endothelium in response to various stimuli. In rat models, wine and other grape derivatives exerted an endothelium-dependent vasorelaxing capacity especially associated with the NO-stimulating activity of their polyphenol components. In experimental conditions, reservatrol (a stilbene polyphenol) protected hearts and kidneys from ischemia-reperfusion injury through antioxidant activity and upregulation of NO production. Wine polyphenols are also able to induce the expression of genes involved in the NO pathway within the arterial wall. The effects of wine on endothelial function in humans are not yet clearly understood. A favorable action of red wine or dealcoholized wine extract or purple grape juice on endothelial function has been observed by several authors, but discrimination between ethanol and polyphenol effects is controversial. It is, however likely that regular and prolonged moderate wine drinking positively affects endothelial function. The beneficial effects of wine on cardiovascular health are greater if wine is associated with a healthy diet. The most recent nutritional and epidemiologic studies show that the ideal diet closely resembles the Mediterranean diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols
  • Wine*


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Nitric Oxide