Background: Atherosclerosis is enhanced in arterial segments exposed to disturbed flow. Perturbed shear stress increases the expression of oxidation-sensitive responsive genes (such as ELK-1 and p-CREB). Polyphenolic antioxidants contained in the juice derived from the pomegranate contribute to the reduction of oxidative stress and atherogenesis during disturbed shear stress.
Aim of the study: To evaluate the effects of intervention with the Pomegranate Fruit Extract (PFE) rich in polyphones (punicalagin, which is a potent antioxidant) on ELK-1, p-CREB, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression induced by high shear stress in vitro and in vivo.
Results: At the doses used in the study, both the PFE and the regular pomegranate juice concentrate reduced the activation of ELK-1 and p-CREB and increased eNOS expression (which was decreased by perturbed shear stress) in cultured human endothelial cells and in atherosclerosis-prone areas of hypercholesterolemic mice. PFE and pomegranate juice increased cyclic GMP levels while there was no significant effect of both compounds on the conversion of L-arginine to L-citrulline. Administration of these compounds to hypercholesterolemic mice significantly reduced the progression of atherosclerosis and isoprostane levels and increased nitrates. This protective effect was relevant with PFE. Vasomotor reactivity was improved and EC(25) values in response to Ach and NONOate were significantly increased in treated mice in comparison to controls.
Conclusion: This study indicates that the proatherogenic effects induced by perturbed shear stress can be also reversed by chronic administration of PFE.