Careful characterization and standardization of the composition of plant-derived food supplements is essential to establish a cause-effect relationship between the intake of that product and its health effect. In this review we follow a specific grape seed extract containing monomeric and oligomeric flavan-3-ols from its creation by Jack Masquelier in 1947 towards a botanical remedy and nutraceutical with proven health benefits. The preparation's research history parallels the advancing insights in the fields of molecular biology, medicine, plant and nutritional sciences during the last 70 years. Analysis of the extract's flavanol composition emerged from unspecific colorimetric assays to precise high performance liquid chromatography - mass spectrometry and proton nuclear magnetic resonance fingerprinting techniques. The early recognition of the preparation's auspicious effects on the permeability of vascular capillaries directed research to unravel the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Recent clinical data revealed a multitude of favorable alterations in the vasculature upon an 8 weeks supplementation which summed up in a health benefit of the extract in healthy humans. Changes in gene expression of inflammatory pathways in the volunteers' leukocytes were suggested to be involved in this benefit. The historically grown scientific evidence for the preparation's health effects paves the way to further elucidate its metabolic fate and molecular action in humans.
Keywords: Cardiovascular; Flavanols; Food; Grape seed; Health; Inflammation; Masquelier; Nutraceutical; Oxidative stress; Proanthocyanidins.