Red wine inhibits synthesis of endothelin-1 for cardioprotective effect

LONDON (Reuters Health) – Red wine appears to exert its anti-atherosclerotic effect by inhibiting synthesis of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1, British investigators report in Nature for December 20/27.

Endothelin antagonists may prevent endothelial dysfunction and fatty-streak formation, Dr. Roger Corder and associates, of the Queen Mary University of London, point out. They add that local endothelin-1 production disturbs the coronary blood supply of patients with coronary heart disease.

The researchers found that polyphenols from red wine suppress transcription of the endothelin-1 gene in cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells. Ethanol-free extracts from 23 red wines caused a 50% reduction in basal synthesis of endothelin-1 at average concentrations of 5.0 µL/mL. In comparison, similar inhibition required 35 µL/mL of red grape juice, while white and rose wines had only negligible effect on endothelin-1 synthesis.

Dr. Corder's group noted that "inhibitors of the cellular tyrosine-kinase family of phosphorylating enzymes that share structural similarity to red-wine polyphenols also suppress endothelin-1 synthesis." Sure enough, using immunocytochemistry they found that red-wine extract changed the cultured endothelial cell morphology and altered tyrosine phosphorylation in the cells.

"Characterization of the vascular mechanisms underlying red wine's beneficial effects should help in the design of strategies to prevent atherosclerosis," the UK research team concludes.

Nature 2001;414:863-864.

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