In a recent online edition of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers created an experimental model of carotid artery disease leading to stroke by feeding mice a high fat diet, then injuring the carotid artery, then continuing the high fat diet.1 Half of animals received a supplement of resveratrol plus quercetin while half did not. The mice fed the resveratrol plus quercetin developed carotid stenosis (closure) that was 94% less than those not fed these supplement. The combined supplement was able to reduce proliferation of the smooth muscle lining the blood vessels so they did not thicken and close off the carotid artery as much and decrease levels of inflammation within the blood stream. A previous study in mice showed that resveratrol plus quercetin were able to prevent coronary artery stents from closing up or re-stenosing over time via a similar mechanism.2 In both studies, the combination of the two supplements worked better than either alone.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a main cause of disability in this country. Strokes occur when there is blockage of blood flow to areas within the brain. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage of blood flow to areas within the brain. A narrowed carotid artery lined with plaque in the front of the neck is one of the main sources for debris or emboli that travel to the brain and cause strokes or TIAs. Narrowing and plaque build-up occur from long standing hypertension, high cholesterol, and aging.
Quercetin is a flavonoid or plant metabolite that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in many fruits and vegetables particularly citrus fruit, apples, onions, olive oil, parsley, sage, tea, blueberries, blackberries, bilberries, and red wine. Resveratrol is naturally occurring product with antioxidant, anti-aging, cancer prevention, diabetes control, and anti-inflammatory effects. It is found within grapes, pomegranates, knotwood roots, and several berries. Its presence in red wine is thought to explain the “French paradox” or the relatively low level of heart disease in France despite the high levels of dietary saturated fats and cigarette smoking.
If these findings can be replicated in humans, this study shows that supplements of quercetin and resveratrol can limit narrowing of carotid arteries potentially preventing some TIAs and strokes. This study also supports prior research showing that a diet high in fruit and vegetables decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes.
- Khandelwal AR, Hebert VY, Kleinedler JJ, et al. Resveratrol and Quercetin interact to inhibit neointimal hyperplasia in mice with a carotid injury. J Nutrition 2012; Epub June 2012.
- Kleinedler JJ, Foley JD, Orchard EA, Dugas TR. Novel nanocompositve stent coating releasing resveratrol and quercetin reduced neointimal hyperplasia and promotes re-endothelialization. J Contro Release 2012; 159: 27-33.