Affiliation: UMR INSERM 1063, PBH - IRIS, Rue des Capucins, F-49100 Angers, France.
Cardiovascular diseases are an important public health problem because they represent a major cause of death worldwide. The pathophysiology of these chronic diseases is defined, among others, by an excess of reactive oxygen species production, a defect of endothelium-dependent vasodilation, a high blood pressure or a modification of platelet function. Epidemiological studies suggest that the beneficial cardiovascular health effects of diets rich in fruits and vegetables are, in part, mediated by their flavonoid content, with particular benefits provided by members of this family such as epigallocatechin gallate, quercetin or delphinidin. Many studies show that these phytochemicals are promising natural compounds to prevent cardiovascular diseases associated with endothelial dysfunction. Mechanistically, shortterm effects on endothelium-dependent vasodilation following the consumption of these flavonoids have been linked to an increased nitric oxide bioactivity. Moreover, besides their well-described antioxidant properties, these flavonoids are able to prevent endothelial cell apoptosis and to modulate various signaling pathways leading to inflammation. Therefore, this review attempts to outline our understanding about the pleiotropic beneficial effects of epigallocathecin gallate, quercetin or delphinidin on cardiovascular diseases associated with endothelial dysfunction. Furthermore, this review aims to identify the potential protective vascular effects of these flavonoids and their therapeutic value in cardiovascular medicine.