Pharmacology in health food: metabolism of quercetin in vivo and its protective effect against arteriosclerosis

J Pharmacol Sci. 2011;115(4):466-70. doi: 10.1254/jphs.10r38fm. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


Quercetin, a member of the bioflavonoids family, has been proposed to have anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hypertensive properties leading to the beneficial effects against cardiovascular diseases. It was recently demonstrated that quercetin 3-O-β-D-glucuronide (Q3GA) is one of the major quercetin conjugates in human plasma, in which the aglycone could not be detected. Although most of the in vitro pharmacological studies have been carried out using only the quercetin aglycone form, experiments using Q3GA would be important to discover the preventive mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases by quercetin in vivo. Therefore we examined the effects of the chemically synthesized Q3GA, as an in vivo form, on vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) disorders related to the progression of arteriosclerosis. Platelet-derived growth factor-induced cell migration and proliferation were inhibited by Q3GA in VSMCs. Q3GA attenuated angiotensin II-induced VSMC hypertrophy via its inhibitory effect on JNK and the AP-1 signaling pathway. Q3GA scavenged 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical measured by the electron paramagnetic resonance method. In addition, immunohistochemical studies with monoclonal antibody 14A2 targeting the Q3GA demonstrated that the positive staining specifically accumulates in human atherosclerotic lesions, but not in the normal aorta. These findings suggest Q3GA would be an active metabolite of quercetin in plasma and may have preventative effects on arteriosclerosis relevant to VSMC disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Arteriosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Food, Organic
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / drug therapy
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Quercetin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Quercetin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Quercetin / pharmacology
  • Quercetin / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • quercetin 3-O-glucuronide
  • Quercetin