Cell Systems to Investigate the Impact of Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Health

Charlotte Grootaert and colleagues from Ghent (BE) and Istanbul Technical Universities (TR) have reviewed the literature concerning cell culture models for polyphenols and cardiovascular disease research.The review concludes that, even if cell culture models offer an easy-to-use and high-throughput model to screen and rank polyphenols according to their bioavailability and bioactivity, these models do not easily translate to in vivo systems because they do not take into account micro-environments that have been shown to have significant impact on disease risk.

Polyphenols are a diverse group of plant compounds that contribute to human health in general. Many research groups have investigated protective effect against cardiovascular disease in animal and human studies. However, because of the processing of polyphenols by human cells as well as the intestinal microbial community, there is significant variation amongst individuals in response. As a consequence, exact mechanisms for their protective effects on human health are still unclear and in vitro models, whilst having their place in research, do not always aid better understanding of the situation in vivo.

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  1. Concentrations of polyphenols applied in cell culture studies are often higher (10- to 1000-times) than those circulating in the blood stream.
  2. The human micro-environment has not been studied sufficiently, due to a lack of analytical data and protocols for stabilisation and application in cell culture.
  3. Several models could be useful for determining the impact of polyphenols on cross-talk mechanisms between host cells and between the host and the microbial community, particularly with regard to cardiovascular disease risk.