Recent advances in cranberry research have expanded the evidence for the role of this Vaccinium berry fruit in modulating gut microbiota function and cardiometabolic risk factors. The A-type structure of cranberry proanthocyanidins seems to be responsible for much of this fruit's efficacy as a natural antimicrobial. Cranberry proanthocyanidins interfere with colonization of the gut by extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli in vitro and attenuate gut barrier dysfunction caused by dietary insults in vivo. Furthermore, new studies indicate synergy between these proanthocyanidins, other cranberry components such as isoprenoids and xyloglucans, and gut microbiota. Together, cranberry constituents and their bioactive catabolites have been found to contribute to mechanisms affecting bacterial adhesion, coaggregation, and biofilm formation that may underlie potential clinical benefits on gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, as well as on systemic anti-inflammatory actions mediated via the gut microbiome. A limited but growing body of evidence from randomized clinical trials reveals favorable effects of cranberry consumption on measures of cardiometabolic health, including serum lipid profiles, blood pressure, endothelial function, glucoregulation, and a variety of biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress. These results warrant further research, particularly studies dedicated to the elucidation of dose-response relations, pharmacokinetic/metabolomics profiles, and relevant biomarkers of action with the use of fully characterized cranberry products. Freeze-dried whole cranberry powder and a matched placebo were recently made available to investigators to facilitate such work, including interlaboratory comparability.
Keywords: antimicrobial; cardiometabolic; cranberry; microbiome; proanthocyanidins.
© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.