Artichoke extracts have been shown to produce various pharmacological effects, such as the inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis and of LDL oxidation. Endothelial dysfunction represents the first stage of atherosclerotic disease; it is usually evaluated in humans by a noninvasive ultrasound method as brachial flow-mediated vasodilation (FMV) and by the determination of several humoral markers such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and E-selectin. Aim of the study was to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation with artichoke juice on brachial FMV of hyperlipemics. We studied 18 moderately hyperlipemic patients (LDL cholesterol > 130 <200 mg/dl and/or triglycerides >150 <250 mg/dl) of both genders and 10 hyperlipemic patients, matched for age, sex and lipid parameters. All subjects were under isocaloric hypolipidic diet. A basal determination of serum lipids, soluble VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin and brachial FMV was performed. Thereafter patients were given 20 ml/die of frozen artichoke juice. The same parameters were repeated after 6 weeks. After artichoke treatment there was an increase of triglycerides (156 +/- 54 vs 165 +/- 76 mg/dL, p <0.05) and a reduction of total cholesterol (261 +/- 37 vs 244 +/- 38 mg/dL, p <0.05) and LDL cholesterol (174 +/- 31 vs 160 +/- 34 mg/dL, p <0.05). Controls showed a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol (respectively: 267 +/- 22 vs 249 +/- 20 mg/dL and 180 +/- 24 vs 164 +/- 23 mg/dL, both p <0.001). After artichoke there was a decrease in VCAM-1(1633 +/- 1293 vs 1139 +/- 883 ng/mL, p <0.05) and ICAM-1(477 +/- 123 vs 397 +/- 102 ng/mL, p <0.05), brachial FMV increased (3.3 +/- 2.7 vs 4.5 +/- 2.4%, p <0.01), while controls did not exhibit significant changes in VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin and brachial FMV. Univariate analysis showed that, in artichoke patients, changes of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were significantly related to changes in brachial FMV (respectively: r=-0.66 and r=-0.62; both p <0.05). In conclusion, artichoke dietary supplementation seems to positively modulate endothelial function in hypercholesterolemia.