Wine and cardiovascular disease.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2001; 11(4 Suppl):47-50NM
The objective of the European project FAIR CT 97 3261 "Wine & Cardiovascular Disease" was to have insight into the biological effects and mechanisms of wine constituents as protective factors against cardiovascular disease and to evaluate their clinical relevance in the context of a regular and moderate wine consumption (1, 2). The project aimed at evaluating the effects of red wine polyphenolic extracts (RWPE) on the major components contributing to the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and thrombosis, namely vascular tone, haemostatic system, oxidative processes, and plaque development, in selected in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models (3-6). Evidence was obtained that RWPE might improve vascular function mainly through nitric oxide (NO)-mediated mechanisms, interfere with haemostatic and oxidative processes involved in the progression of vascular damage, and modulate early events of atherosclerosis. These effects were studied on cellular and plasmatic blood components and on vascular function in experimental animal models. A study in 40 healthy volunteers, performed in Barcelona, showed a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) levels and a decreased oxidation of LDL after red wine ingestion (30 g alcohol daily for 4 weeks) as compared to the same amount of alcohol given as spirit. A significant fall was seen, after red wine, in the expression of several markers of cardiovascular risk measured on circulating cell surface or in plasma of volunteers. Finally, a meta-analysis of all available epidemiological studies indicated a significant negative association of moderate wine consumption (150-300 ml daily) with the risk of major cardiovascular events. In conclusion, this FAIR project contributed to the establishment of a biological plausibility to the epidemiological association of moderate wine consumption with prevention of cardiovascular disease. Red wine and RWPE altogether may prove to be beneficial against the major killer of European citizens.