Background: we have evaluated the antihypertensive effect of several flavonoid extracts in a rat model of arterial hypertension caused by chronic administration (6 weeks) of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor, L-NAME.
Methods: Sprague Dawley rats received L-NAME alone or L-NAME plus flavonoid-rich vegetal extracts (Lemon, Grapefruit + Bitter Orange, and Cocoa) or purified flavonoids (Apigenin and Diosmin) for 6 weeks.
Results: L-NAME treatment resulted in a marked elevation of blood pressure, and treatment with Apigenin, Lemon Extract, and Grapefruit + Bitter Orange extracts significantly reduced the elevated blood pressure of these animals. Apigenin and some of these flavonoids also ameliorated nitric oxide-dependent and -independent aortic vasodilation and elevated nitrite urinary excretion. End-organ abnormalities such as cardiac infarcts, hyaline arteriopathy and fibrinoid necrosis in coronary arteries and aorta were improved by these treatments, reducing the end-organ vascular damage.
Conclusions: the flavonoids included in this study, specially apigenin, may be used as functional food ingredients with potential therapeutic benefit in arterial hypertension.
Keywords: acetylcholine; flavonoids; heart; kidney; nitric oxide; phenylephrine; sodium balance.