Many cardiovascular diseases such as arterial hypertension are associated with an increase in blood platelet activity. Arbutus unedo (Ericaceae) is a medicinal plant reputed to treat arterial hypertension, so the present study was undertaken in order to determine the antiaggregant effect. The crude aqueous extract showed an inhibition of thrombin-induced platelet aggregation (IC50 = 1.8 +/- 0.09 g/L, n = 10). The subsequent extraction of Arbutus unedo leaves by successive solvents showed that the methanol and ethyl acetate extracts accounted for most of the antiaggregant activity (IC50 = 0.7 +/- 0.08, n = 9; 0.6 +/- 0.05; n = 9, respectively). The tannins isolated from the methanol extract exhibited a strong antiplatelet effect (% of inhibition = 75.3 +/- 1.4, n = 8) and may be the major chemical compounds responsible for this action. Our results support the traditional use of this plant in the preventive or therapeutic treatment of platelet aggregation linked to arterial hypertension.
Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.