Elderberry extract improves molecular markers of endothelial dysfunction linked to atherosclerosis


Endothelial dysfunction (ED), secondary to diminished nitric oxide (NO) production and oxidative stress, is an early subclinical marker of atherosclerosis. Reduced NO bioavailability enhances the adhesion of monocytes to endothelial cells and promotes atherosclerosis. Elderberry extract (EB) is known to contain high levels of anthocyanins which could exert vascular protective effects. Specifically, we investigated the functional capacity of EB on various markers of ED. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were pretreated with EB 50 μg/mL and stimulated with TNF-α 10 ng/mL. Cell viability, apoptosis, oxidative stress; eNOS, Akt, Nrf2, NOX-4, and NF-κB at the protein level were measured. A co-culture model was used to determine whether EB could prevent the adhesion of monocytes (THP-1) to HUVECs. Moreover, the expression of adhesion molecules and pro-inflammatory cytokines were also measured. It was demonstrated that EB prevented TNF-α induced apoptosis and reactive oxygen species production in HUVECs. Additionally, EB upregulated Akt and eNOS activity, and Nrf2 expression in response to TNF-α, whereas it decreased NOX-4 expression and NF-κB activity. EB prevented the adhesion of monocytes to HUVECs, as well as reduced IL-6 and MCP-1 levels, which was associated with inhibition of VCAM-1 expression. Our results demonstrate that EB upregulates key cellular markers of endothelial function and ameliorates markers of ED. EB could be used as a potential nutritional aid for preventing atherosclerosis progression.


open access article



Festa, J., Hussain, A., Hackney, A., Desai, U., Sahota, T. S., Singh, H., and Da Boit, M. (2023) Elderberry extract improves molecular markers of endothelial dysfunction linked to atherosclerosis. Food Science & Nutrition, 11 (7), pp. 4047-4059


Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research