Purpose: Postmenopausal women experience higher risks for cardiovascular diseases than age-matched men and pre-menopausal women. There is a need for better treatment strategy for estrogen-deficient-related cardiovascular complications. We and others have recently reported that activated renin-angiotensin system and the associated oxidative stress impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in ovariectomized rat, while angiotensin receptor blocker rescues endothelial dysfunction. Dietary supplements and lifestyle modifications provide an alternative way to improve cardiovascular health. The present study tests the hypothesis that chronic cranberry juice consumption improves cholesterol profiles and vascular functions in estrogen-deficient animal model. The effect of cranberry consumption on expression and activity of renin-angiotensin system in the vasculature will be determined.
Methods: Ovariectomized rats were treated daily with commercial cranberry juice at 7 mg/kg for 8 weeks, a dosage comparable to recent clinical studies. Serum was collected for measuring cholesterol levels while aorta was isolated for isometric force assay and expression studies.
Results: Cranberry juice consumption reduced circulating levels of total cholesterol, triacylglycerols, HDL, nHDL, and nHDL/HDL ratio. Meanwhile, cranberry juice consumption improved endothelium-dependent relaxation in aorta of ovariectomized rats by restoring p-eNOS level (endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylated at ser-1177), reversing the up-regulated levels of renin-angiotensin system markers (angiotensin-converting enzyme, angiotensin II, and angiotensin II type 1 receptor), and normalizing the elevated NAD(P)H oxidase expression and oxidative stress.
Conclusions: Our data demonstrate the novel cardiovascular benefits of cranberry juice consumption in improving both vascular functions and cholesterol profiles, providing insight into developing cranberry products into useful dietary supplements for postmenopausal women.