Endothelial function and cardiovascular disease: effects of quercetin and wine polyphenols

Free Radic Res. 2006 Oct;40(10):1054-65. doi: 10.1080/10715760600823128.


Endothelial dysfunction is an early pathophysiological feature and independent predictor of poor prognosis in most forms of cardiovascular diseases. Epidemiological studies report an inverse association between dietary flavonoid consumption and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. In the present paper, we review the effects of flavonoids, especially quercetin and wine polyphenols, on endothelial function and dysfunction and its potential protective role in hypertension, ischemic heart disease and stroke. In vitro studies show that flavonoids may exert multiple actions on the NO-guanylyl cyclase pathway, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor(s) and endothelin-1 and protect endothelial cells against apoptosis. In vivo, flavonoids prevent endothelial dysfunction and reduce blood pressure, oxidative stress and end-organ damage in hypertensive animals. Moreover, some clinical studies have shown that flavonoid-rich foods can improve endothelial function in patients with hypertension and ischemic heart disease. Altogether, the available evidence indicates that quercetin and wine polyphenols might be of therapeutic benefit in cardiovascular diseases even though prospective controlled clinical studies are still lacking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols
  • Quercetin / analysis
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Wine* / analysis


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Quercetin