Bonum vinum laetificat cor hominum.Med Sci Monit. 2001 Jul-Aug; 7(4):842-7.MS
Beneficial effects of wine consumption on health have been suspected since the antiquity. Recent epidemiological studies show that coronary heart disease mortality markedly decreases from northern to southern Europe and is lower in Mediterranean than in other developed countries. Because wine is a component of the Mediterranean diet, it has been suggested that moderate wine especially red wine consumption may produce additional beneficial effects on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared to consuming the same quantity of alcohol in other beverages. Polyphenols are good candidates to explain the putative cardiovascular protective effect of wine, because they are abundant in wine especially red wine, and possess antioxidant and superoxide ion scavenging properties. Because it is readily accessible from blood and produces cardioprotective agents like nitric oxide (NO) the endothelial cell may be a privileged target for wine polyphenols. Polyphenols from red wine can prevent oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL). As oxidized LDL inhibit agonist-activated NO release from endothelial cells and subsequent endothelium-dependent relaxation of arteries, wine polyphenols might prevent LDL-induced alterations of endothelial function. Furthermore some wine polyphenols contained in oligomeric condensed tannins- and anthocyaninsD enriched fractions can act directly on endothelial cells to cause calcium-dependent release of NO. The latter effect is independent from superoxide scavenging and antioxidant properties of the polyphenols, and it is produced by compounds with specific structures only. Thus, decreased oxidation of LDL and enhanced release of NO from endothelium caused by polyphenols from red wine may result in cardiovascular protection. However further studies are required to demonstrate whether or not these effects are involved in the putative protective effect of wine on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.