Inhibition of VEGF Signaling by Polyphenols in Relation to Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease in Recent Advances in Polyphenol Research

Rebecca Edwards and Paul Kroon with colleagues from the Institute of Food Research (UK) have reviewed the literature describing the potential for polyphenols to influence atherosclerosis (deposition of fatty material on inner arterial walls) and,specifically,inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signalling and VEGF – dependent angiogenesis.

Angiogenesis – development of new blood vessels – is an important step in the process of atherosclerosis, which can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), and it has been demonstrated that the rate of atherosclerosis in animal models increases in the presence of VEGF. Thus, reducing the effects of VEGF could reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis and so reduce the risk of CVD.

Despite research suggesting that some polyphenols can inhibit VEGF signalling, as well as angiogenesis and atherosclerosis, there is a lack of published data from studies examining the role of polyphenol metabolites in these processes. Most studies have used compounds, such as aglycones, at concentrations above those likely to be achieved from the diet alone or to treat disease rather than reduce risk.

Even where data suggest there is a positive correlation between polyphenol consumption and reduced risk of CVD, it is still difficult to determine the role of specific compounds. However, this review demonstrates there is a significant body of literature describing the role of specific polyphenols inaltering VEGF signalling and angiogenesis.

The authors recommend future research should focus on establishing whether the anti-atherosclerotic effects of polyphenol-rich foods, such as pomegranate, and extracts are due to the inhibition of VEGF signalling and, if so, health claims then attached to foods containing polyphenols.

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  1. A substantial body of evidence reports that some dietary polyphenols can potently inhibit VEGF signalling, which is the major driver of angiogenesis
  2. Studiesdescribing thesignificant anti-angiogenic activity of polyphenols are consistent with reports of anti-VEGF signalling activities of polyphenols
  3. VEGF-induced activation of VEGFR-2 is potently inhibited by polyphenols that have also been reported to inhibit atherosclerosis