Pomegranate phenolics from the peels, arils, and flowers are antiatherogenic: studies in vivo in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein e-deficient (E 0) mice and in vitro in cultured macrophages and lipoproteins

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):1148-57. doi: 10.1021/jf071811q. Epub 2008 Jan 4.


We have analyzed in vivo and in vitro the antiatherogenic properties and mechanisms of action of all pomegranate fruit parts: peels (POMxl, POMxp), arils (POMa), seeds (POMo), and flowers (POMf), in comparison to whole fruit juice (PJ). Atherosclerotic E 0 mice consumed POM extracts [200 microg of gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/mouse/day] for 3 months. Blood samples, peritoneal macrophages (MPM), and aortas were then collected. All POM extracts possess antioxidative properties in vitro. After consumption of PJ, POMxl, POMxp, POMa, or POMf by E (0) mice, the atherosclerotic lesion area was significantly decreased by 44, 38, 39, 6, or 70%, respectively, as compared to placebo-treated group, while POMo had no effect. POMf consumption reduced serum lipids, and glucose levels by 18-25%. PJ, POMxl, POMxp, POMf, or POMa consumption resulted in a significant decrement, by 53, 42, 35, 27, or 13%, respectively, in MPM total peroxides content, and increased cellular paraoxonase 2 (PON2) activity, as compared to placebo-treated mice. The uptake rates of oxidized-LDL by E (0)-MPM were significantly reduced by approximately 15% after consumption of PJ, POMxl, or POMxp. Similar results were obtained on using J774A.1 macrophage cell line. Finally, pomegranate phenolics (punicalagin, punicalin, gallic acid, and ellagic acid), as well as pomegranate unique complexed sugars, could mimic the antiatherogenic effects of pomegranate extracts. We conclude that attenuation of atherosclerosis development by some of the POM extracts and, in particular, POMf, could be related to the combined beneficial effects on serum lipids levels and on macrophage atherogenic properties.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / deficiency*
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diet
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism
  • Lythraceae / chemistry*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phenols / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein