Natural phenolic compounds as cardiovascular therapeutics: potential role of their antiinflammatory effects

Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2003 Jun;1(2):135-56. doi: 10.2174/1570161033476736.


A number of epidemiological studies have shown that diets rich in plant-derived phenolic compounds reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The chronic antioxidant and hypolipidemic activities of these compounds have important roles in prevention of lipoprotein oxidation and atherosclerotic lesion development. In recent years, it has been recognized that inflammation is directly involved in development of cardiovascular disease and clinical events such as atherosclerotic plaque rupture (which is the trigger of acute coronary syndrome), arterial restenosis, and myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. Phenolic compounds have significant antiinflammatory effects, including inhibition of adhesion molecule, cytokine and chemokine gene expression; inhibition of platelet function; augmentation of endothelial nitric oxide release; suppression of smooth muscle activation; and other effects on proinflammatory factors such as endothelin and matrix metalloproteinases. However, direct evidence of acute therapeutic benefits of phenolic compounds in cardiovascular disorders remains sparse. This review attempts to integrate the inflammatory mechanisms involved in these cardiovascular diseases with recent findings on the antiinflammatory effects of phenolic compounds. Findings from the limited in vivo studies in this regard are discussed. It is suggested that searching for novel phenolic compounds with higher specificity and efficacy may represent a fruitful approach in development of new cardiovascular therapeutics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Phenols / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Phenols
  • Plant Preparations