Wild blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) alleviate inflammation and hypertension associated with developing obesity in mice fed with a high-fat diet

PLoS One. 2014 Dec 12;9(12):e114790. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114790. eCollection 2014.


Background: Low-grade metabolic inflammation and hypertension are primary mechanisms involved in obesity-associated adverse health effects. Berries, especially Nordic wild blueberries (hereafter referred to as bilberries), represent an important source of dietary anthocyanins, a group of polyphenols with potential beneficial effects to combat obesity-associated metabolic disturbances.

Methods: The effects of 5% or 10% (w/w) of whole bilberries (BB) were studied on the development of obesity and its metabolic disturbances in C57BL mice fed with a high-fat diet (HFD) for three months. Cytokines, inflammatory cells, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, weight gain, body fat, food consumption and energy metabolism were assessed.

Results: Bilberries ameliorated type 1 pro-inflammatory responsiveness induced by HFD. This was indicated by the altered cytokine profile and the reduced prevalence of interferon gamma -producing T-cells, in particular T helper type 1 cells. Bilberries also prevented the progression of obesity associated long term increase in systolic blood pressure in mice.

Conclusions: Bilberries reduce the development of systemic inflammation and prevent the progression of chronic hypertension, thus supporting their potential role in alleviating the adverse health effects associated with developing obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology
  • Anthocyanins / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Immunomodulation / drug effects
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vaccinium myrtillus / chemistry*


  • Adipokines
  • Anthocyanins
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vaccinium myrtillus extract
  • Glucose

Grant support

The work was supported by the Academy of Finland project #133431 (Effects of berry consumption on obesity-associated metabolic disorders) (http://www.aka.fi/), the Graduate School of Applied Biosciences (http://www.vetmed.helsinki.fi/abs/), Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (http://www.yjs.fi/), The Northern Savo Fund of Finnish Cultural Foundation (https://www.skr.fi/), Olvi Foundation (http://www.olvisaatio.fi/), the University of Eastern Finland (http://www.uef.fi/) and in part by grants from the Academy of Finland (#108478 and #129568). Bilberries were kindly provided as gift from a local company, Joswola, Iisalmi, Finland and freeze dried within European networks project collaboration (ELLU). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.