Hypolipidemic effects of proanthocyanidins and their underlying biochemical and molecular mechanisms

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Jan;54(1):37-59. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900476.


Proanthocyanidins are the most abundant polyphenols in human diets. Epidemiological studies strongly suggest that proanthocyanidins protect against cardiovascular diseases. Despite the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these flavonoids, one of the mechanisms by which proanthocyanidins exert their cardiovascular protection is improving lipid homeostasis. Animal studies demonstrate that proanthocyanidins reduce the plasma levels of atherogenic apolipoprotein B-triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and LDL-cholesterol but increase antiatherogenic HDL-cholesterol. The results in humans, however, are less clear. This review summarizes the results that have been published on plasma triglyceride, apolipoprotein B, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels in humans and animal models in response to proanthocyanidin extracts and proanthocyanidin-rich foods. The physiological processes and biochemical pathways that are related to lipid homeostasis and affected by proanthocyanidin consumption are also discussed. Intestinal lipid absorption, chylomicron secretion by the intestine and VLDL secretion by the liver are the processes that are most repressed by proanthocyanidins, which, therefore, induce hypolipidemic effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Proanthocyanidins / pharmacology*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Triglycerides