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Effects of the flavonoids quercetin and apigenin on hemostasis in healthy volunteers: Results from an in vitro and a dietary supplement study


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Intake of dietary flavonols and flavones was inversely associated with risk for cardiovascular disease in several epidemiologic studies. This may have been due to effects on hemostasis because flavonoids have been reported to inhibit platelet aggregation in vitro. We indeed found that 2500 micromol/L of the flavonol quercetin and the flavone apigenin significantly inhibited collagen- and ADP-induced aggregation in platelet-rich plasma and washed platelets by approximately 80-97%. However, lower concentrations, such as might occur in vivo, had no effect. To test this in vivo we fed 18 healthy volunteers 220 g onions/d providing 114 mg quercetin/d, 5 g dried parsley/d providing 84 mg apigenin/d, or a placebo for 7 d each in a randomized crossover experiment with each treatment period lasting 2 wk. Onion consumption raised mean plasma quercetin concentrations to 1.5 micromol/L; plasma apigenin could not be measured. No significant effects of onions or parsley were found on platelet aggregation, thromboxane B2 production, factor VII, or other hemostatic variables. We conclude that the antiaggregatory effects of flavonoids seen in vitro are due to concentrations that cannot be attained in vivo. Effects of dietary flavonols and flavones on cardiovascular risk are possibly not mediated by hemostatic variables.
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ABSTRACT Intake of dietary flavonols and flavones was
inversely associated with risk for cardiovascular disease in sev-
eral epidemiologic studies. This may have been due to effects on
hemostasis because flavonoids have been reported to inhibit
platelet aggregation in vitro. We indeed found that 2500 mmol/L
of the flavonol quercetin and the flavone apigenin significantly
inhibited collagen- and ADP-induced aggregation in platelet-rich
plasma and washed platelets by <80–97%. However, lower con-
centrations, such as might occur in vivo, had no effect. To test
this in vivo we fed 18 healthy volunteers 220 g onions/d provid-
ing 114 mg quercetin/d, 5 g dried parsley/d providing 84 mg api-
genin/d, or a placebo for 7 d each in a randomized crossover
experiment with each treatment period lasting 2 wk. Onion con-
sumption raised mean plasma quercetin concentrations to 1.5
mmol/L; plasma apigenin could not be measured. No significant
effects of onions or parsley were found on platelet aggregation,
thromboxane B
production, factor VII, or other hemostatic vari-
ables. We conclude that the antiaggregatory effects of flavonoids
seen in vitro are due to concentrations that cannot be attained in
vivo. Effects of dietary flavonols and flavones on cardiovascular
risk are possibly not mediated by hemostatic variables. Am J
Clin Nutr 1998;67:255–62.
KEY WORDS Apigenin, diet, factor VII, fibrinogen,
flavonoid, hemostasis, humans, plasminogen activator inhibitor
1, PAI-1, plasminogen, platelet aggregation, quercetin, throm-
boxane, in vitro study, onions, parsley
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that occur ubiquitous-
ly in plant foods. Flavonols and flavones are subclasses of
flavonoids (Figure 1) (1–4). In 1992 the average daily intake of
the flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin from the Dutch
diet was 16, 4, and 1 mg, respectively; the average intake of the
flavones apigenin and luteolin was 1 mg each (5). The intake of
these five dietary flavonoids was associated with a reduced risk for
ischemic heart disease and stroke in several (6–9), although not all
(10, 11), epidemiologic studies. Two types of mechanisms have
been proposed to explain this protective effect: inhibition of LDL
oxidation and inhibition of platelet aggregation (12, 13). Results
obtained by incubation of human platelets or animal cells with iso-
lated flavonoids suggest that flavonoids inhibit platelet aggrega-
tion probably by inhibition of cyclooxygenase activity. Conflicting
observations on the effects of flavonoids on in vitro platelet aggre-
gation have been made (14–21). It has been stated that flavones are
potent and flavonols moderate inhibitors of cyclooxygenase, and
that flavonoid glycosides are less effective inhibitors than their
aglycones—the sugar-free part of the flavonoid molecule (14, 21).
This is relevant because flavonoids in foods are present mainly as
glycosides (1); we showed earlier that absorption of flavonoid glu-
cosides is more effective than absorption of aglycones (22). Holl-
man et al (23) found peak plasma quercetin concentrations of 0.6
mmol/L (196 ng/mL) in humans after consumption of 64.2 mg
quercetin from onions. Flavonoid concentrations used in in vitro
studies ranged between 10 and 1000 mmol/L (14–21), which is
thus 10–1000 times higher than plasma concentrations reached
after oral intake. There are no data on plasma concentrations of
apigenin in humans. Thus, there are several reasons why the effect
of flavonoids on platelets in vivo might differ from those observed
in vitro.
Flavonoids may also affect the activity or the concentration of plas-
ma coagulation or fibrinolysis factors such as fibrinogen, factor VII,
and plasminogen (24–26). The formation of a thrombus in athero-
sclerotic coronary arteries gives rise to acute ischemic heart disease,
and coagulation and fibrinolysis factors play a key role in the control
of thrombus formation (27, 28). Several studies indeed showed that
plasma fibrinogen concentration is an independent risk factor for
ischemic heart disease (29–31). Factor VII and plasminogen activity
were also associated with ischemic heart disease risk (30) and plasma
plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) activity was associated with
increased risks of myocardial (re)infarction (31, 32).
Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:255–62. Printed in USA. © 1998 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
Effects of the flavonoids quercetin and apigenin on hemostasis
in healthy volunteers: results from an in vitro and a dietary
supplement study
PLTM Karin Janssen, Ronald P Mensink, Frank JJ Cox, Jan L Harryvan, Robert Hovenier, Peter CH Hollman,
and Martijn B Katan
From the Department of Human Nutrition, Agricultural University,
Wageningen, Netherlands; the Department of Human Biology, Maastricht
University, Maastricht, Netherlands; and the State Institute for Quality Con-
trol of Agricultural Products (RIKILT-DLO), Wageningen, Netherlands.
Supported by grants from the Netherlands Heart Foundation (93.084)
and the Netherlands Foundation for Nutrition and Health Research, and a
PhD fellowship from Wageningen Agricultural University (to PLTMKJ).
Address reprint request to MB Katan, Department of Human Nutrition
and Epidemiology, Agricultural University, Bomenweg 2, 6703 HD,
Wageningen, Netherlands.
Received March 10, 1997.
Accepted for publication September 2, 1997.
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We carried out both an in vitro study and a dietary supplement
study in healthy volunteers. In the in vitro study we investigated
whether a test tube addition of flavonoids in the estimated phys-
iologic range (0–2.5 mmol/L) inhibited in vitro platelet aggrega-
tion, and we included unphysiologically high concentrations of
flavonoids (>2.5 mmol/L) to enable comparisons with published
studies. In the dietary study we examined whether administration
of foods rich in flavonoids affected platelet aggregation and
coagulation and fibrinolysis factors in healthy volunteers.
Both protocols were approved by the Medical Ethics Com-
mittee of the Department of Human Nutrition of Wageningen
Agricultural University and were fully explained to the partici-
pants, who gave their written, informed consent. Participants
were all nonsmokers. The in vitro study was carried out in the
summer of 1995 and the dietary supplement study from October
until December 1995.
In vitro study
Four men from the Department of Human Biology, Maastricht
University, aged 24, 29, 35, and 47 y served as blood donors. All
were healthy according to a medical questionnaire and ate an ordi-
nary Western diet. None of the blood donors took any medication
for 2 wk preceding the study until the end of the measurements.
We investigated the effects on platelet aggregation of six con-
centrations (0, 0.25, 2.5, 25, 250, and 2500 mmol/L) of pure
quercetin-3-glucoside (Apin Chemicals LTD, Abingdon Oxon,
United Kingdom); quercetin aglycone, ie, quercetin without a
sugar moiety (quercetin dihydrate, no. 75670; Fluka Chemika,
Buchs, Germany); apigenin aglycone (no. 10798; Fluka Chemika,
Meppel, Netherlands); and catechin [(+)-catechin hydrate; Fluka
Chemika, Meppel, Netherlands]. It was not possible to study in
vitro effects of apigenin glycosides because these glycosides are
not available commercially. Effects were studied in both platelet-
rich plasma and washed platelets to exclude possible effects of
plasma factors on aggregation. Effects were not studied in whole
blood because whole blood is only stable for <30 min.
Indomethacin (I-7278; Sigma Chemical Co, St Louis), a spe-
cific inhibitor of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, was used as a pos-
itive control. Effects of final indomethacin concentrations of 0,
0.1, 1, 10, 100, and 1000 mmol/L on in vitro platelet aggregation
in platelet-rich plasma and washed platelets were tested by using
citrated blood from one of the donors. Aggregations in platelet-
rich plasma were stimulated with final concentrations of 2 mg
collagen/L (Collagen Horm, München, Germany) or 2.5 mmol
ADP/L (A6521; Sigma Chemical Co). Aggregations in washed
platelets were induced by 2.5 mg collagen/L or 18 mmol ADP/L.
Because polyphenols are known to bind proteins, catechin—a
flavonoid with a high protein binding capacity (33) but hardly any
effect on platelet aggregation or prostaglandin synthesis (14, 20,
34)—served as a control for nonspecific effects. Each donor gave
blood four times within a period of 1–6 wk. Effects of apigenin,
quercetin, quercetin-3-glucoside, and catechin were tested in random
order for all four donors. Effects of the six different concentrations
of each compound were tested on the same day in random order.
After the participants had fasted overnight, free-flowing
venous blood was sampled without stasis (Strauss Kanüle, 1.2-
mm syringe; Luer, Wächterbach, Germany) with the subject in a
supine position. The first 3 mL blood was discarded. Blood was
collected into tubes prefilled with a sodium citrate solution (final
concentration: 10.9 mmol/L, pH 7.3; Merck BV, Amsterdam).
Platelet-rich plasma was centrifuged at 150–160 3 g for 15 min
at room temperature and diluted with autologous platelet-poor
plasma to a final concentration of 185 3 10
platelets/L. Washed
platelets were prepared by mixing 5.8 mL of 80 mmol trisodium
citrate/L, 52 mmol citric acid/L, and 183 mmol glucose [acid cit-
rate dextrose (ACD)]/L with 29.2 mL blood. This solution was
centrifuged for 15 min at 160 3 g at room temperature and
platelet-rich plasma was removed. Subsequently, 25 mL platelet-
rich plasma was mixed with 1 mL ACD, centrifuged for 15 min
at 610 3 g at room temperature, and the platelet pellet was resus-
pended in 2 mL HEPES buffer (pH 6.6; 136 mmol NaCl/L, 2.7
mmol KCl/L, 10 mmol HEPES/L, 2 mmol MgCl
O/L, 1 g
glucose/L, and 1 g bovine serum albumin/L); HEPES buffer was
added to a total volume of 30 mL, and 0.07 L ACD/L buffer was
added. The suspension was centrifuged at 610 3 g for 15 min at
room temperature, and the platelet pellet was resuspended in
HEPES buffer (pH 7.45). Glucose and bovine serum albumin
were added to the buffer just before use.
After the first blood donation, optimal doses of the stimuli
collagen and ADP were determined for each person by using 5
mL blank solvent dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO; Fluka Chemika,
Meppel, Netherlands) instead of a flavonoid solution, under con-
ditions as described below. The optimal stimulus doses, defined
as the final concentrations leading to a maximal aggregation of
65%, were as follows for the aggregations in platelet-rich plas-
ma of the four donors: 2.0, 4.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg collagen/L and
9.0, 5.0, 2.5, and 2.5 mmol ADP/L. The optimal doses for aggre-
gation in washed platelets of the four donors were 7.5, 7.5, 2.5,
and 7.5 mg collagen/L and 18.0, 18.0, 18.0, and 6.0 mmol
ADP/L, respectively. These doses were used throughout.
For each aggregation measurement, 400 mL diluted platelet-
rich plasma or washed platelets were incubated in an aggre-
gometer at 37 °C at 1000 rpm (Chronolog Corporation, Haver-
town, PA). Flavonoids were dissolved in DMSO and 5 mL was
FIGURE 1. Structure of flavonols and flavones. Flavonols: X = OH
(quercetin: R
= OH, R
= H; kaempferol: R
= H, R
= H; and myricetin:
= OH, R
= OH); flavones: X = H (apigenin: R
= H, R
= H; and lute-
olin: R
= OH, R
= H).
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added to the platelets to produce final concentrations of 0, 0.25,
2.5, 25, 250, and 2500 mmol/L. Ten microliters of collagen sus-
pension or ADP was added exactly 10 min after addition of the
flavonoid. We added fibrinogen (final concentration: 0.5 g/L,
fraction 1, type 4 bovine plasma; Sigma Chemie, Brunschwig,
Amsterdam) during the ADP-induced aggregation of washed
platelets. The change in percentage of transmitted light was
monitored continuously for 7 min. Light transmitted was set at
100% for platelet-poor plasma and HEPES buffer and at 0% for
platelet-rich plasma and the washed platelet suspension.
Aggregation measurements were completed within 2 h after
blood sampling. We found in earlier studies (unpublished obser-
vations, 1995) that platelets were stable during this period.
Platelets were always handled in plastic material and at room
temperature. Maximal aggregation was calculated for all mea-
surements. For ADP-induced aggregations, maximal aggregation
of the first wave was used as the outcome variable. Maximal
aggregation on 5 mL solvent DMSO using optimal individual
stimulus concentrations was chosen as 100%. Means and SDs of
the maximal aggregation values were calculated for each
flavonoid concentration as the means and SDs of the four donors.
Within-person effects of the addition of flavonoids to the
platelet-rich plasma compared with no flavonoid addition were
calculated for each flavonoid concentration tested. We then cal-
culated the mean effects (n = 4) and the 95% CIs of these effects.
For platelet-rich plasma and washed platelets the power to detect
a difference between two aggregation measurements, by using a
within person CV of 11%, was 90% to detect a difference of 18%
(a = 0.05).
Dietary supplement study
Ten men and 12 women were recruited through announce-
ments in the University newspaper and posters in student dormi-
tories. One man was excluded because of elevated alanine
aminotransferase and g-glutamyltransferase concentrations and
one woman withdrew on her own accord. From the remaining 20
subjects, 9 men and 9 women were selected by drawing lots. One
man dropped out during the first week of the study for personal
reasons unrelated to the study. A woman who had participated in
the screening replaced him; she started at day 7 of the study.
There were no significant differences in the outcomes of the
dependent variables when the data of this woman were excluded
(data not shown). All 18 volunteers successfully completed the
Participants were healthy on the basis of a medical question-
naire and had normal values for urinary protein and glucose,
hematocrit, hemoglobin, white blood cell and platelet counts,
mean red cell volume, plasma alanine aminotransferase, plasma
g-glutamyltransferase, serum creatinine, prothrombin, and acti-
vated partial thromboplastin time. The mean (±SD) age of the
subjects was 25 ± 8 y and body mass index (kg/m
) was 22 ± 1.
We investigated the effects of daily consumption of flavonoid-
rich dietary supplements on indexes for hemostasis in a random-
ized, placebo-controlled, multiple crossover study involving
three treatments, each treatment period lasting 2 wk. All subjects
participated simultaneously. Participants consumed supplements
daily during weeks 2, 4, and 6. Week 1 served as the run-in peri-
od and weeks 3 and 5 as washout periods. Supplements were
given in random order.
Supplements consisted of 400 g bouillon, to which was added
either 220 g cooked yellow onions (Favorit MSP, class II 60–80
mm; Luctor, Dronten, Netherlands), 4.9 g dried Western European
parsley (Verstegen Specerijen, Rotterdam, Netherlands), or nothing
as a placebo. Onions, parsley, and bouillon powder (Maggi Bouil-
lonkorrels; Nestlé Foodservice Catering, Amsterdam) were bought
in one batch just before the study and stored in the dark at 4°C.
The onions were thinly peeled 1 wk before the study started,
cut into pieces of 8 3 8 3 8 mm in a blender (Robot-Coupe SA,
Montceau-en-Bourgogne, France), heated in portions of 600 g in
a microwave oven for 5 min at 800 W or 7 min at 500 W, mixed,
and heated for another 4 min at 800 W or 5 min at 500 W. Por-
tions of 220 g were weighed on a digital scale to a precision of
0.01 g (model 1203 MP; Sartorius, Gottingen, Germany) and
stored at 220°C. Onions were thawed in the dark at room tem-
perature overnight before consumption. Before the study started
the parsley was mixed, weighed out in portions of 4.9 g, and
stored in the dark at room temperature until consumption. Bouil-
lon was prepared each day before consumption by using 16.7 g
bouillon powder/kg boiling water; 400-g portions were weighed
out and stored in the dark at 4°C. Duplicate portions of the sup-
plements were prepared daily and stored at 220 °C until ana-
lyzed (35). The onion supplement contained 114 ± 3 mg
quercetin (377 ± 10 mmol; n = 15) and the placebo 0.015 ± 0.004
mg quercetin (0.05 ± 0.01 mmol; n = 6). The parsley supplement
contained 84 ± 6 mg apigenin (n = 15).
During weeks 2, 4, and 6, fasted subjects came to the depart-
ment daily between 0730 and 0900 on working days and between
0800 and 1000 on weekend days to consume their supplements.
Parsley and onions were mixed with the bouillon just before con-
sumption. The onion soup was heated for 6 min at 800 W or for
7 min at 500 W; the parsley soup and placebo bouillon were
heated for 4.5 min at 500 W or 3.5 min at 800 W. Participants
were not allowed to eat or drink anything except mineral water
until 2 h after consumption of their supplements.
Food consumption, physical activity, and medication
Participants were urged not to consume any fruit or vegetables
containing >15 mg quercetin or apigenin/kg (eg, apples, endive,
beans, broccoli, celery, cherries, cloves, grapes, leeks, onions,
parsley, and tomatoes), any beverages containing > 4 mg
quercetin or apigenin/L (eg, tea and wine) (35–38), or any fatty
fish. Subjects were asked to maintain their normal eating and
drinking habits and physical activity levels during the study as
much as possible, given the restrictions mentioned above.
Subjects were instructed to avoid taking traditional and homeo-
pathic medicines and vitamin and mineral supplements from 1 mo
preceding the study until the end of the study. Use of oral contra-
ceptives was permitted. Participants were supplied with aceta-
minophen (paracetamol; Samenwerkende Apothekers, Utrecht,
Netherlands), which could be used for pain relief. Subjects were
urged to record health complaints, medications taken, and any
deviations from their normal physical activity and dietary habits in
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a diary. We determined the body weights of the participants and
checked the diaries weekly at days 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 36, and 42.
An experienced dietitian trained one of the human nutrition stu-
dents involved in the study to determine food intake. The food
intake of each participant was measured on 1 d in week 2, 1 d in
week 4, and 1 d in week 6 by using 24-h dietary recalls (39); 29%
of all recalls were from weekend days whereas 71% were from
weekdays. The dietitian and student were responsible for collecting
food intake data. Recalls of a particular subject were handled by the
same person during the whole study. We regularly checked the
between-interviewer variation, which turned out to be negligible.
The habitual energy intake of the subjects was 9.3 ± 2.7 MJ/d (2214
± 642 kcal/d), of which 31 ± 9% was provided by fat, 14 ± 3% by
protein, 53 ± 10% by carbohydrate, and 1 ± 3% by alcohol, with no
changes during the study. Mean body weight decreased by 0.3 ± 1.4
kg (NS) during the study. Subjects did not consume any fatty fish.
There was no evidence from the dietary recall data of changes in
physical activity patterns or any deviations that might have affected
the results. One subject took iron tablets (Ferrofumarat, three 200-
mg tablets/d; FNA, The Hague) from day 33 until the end of the
study because of low hemoglobin concentrations. Subjects took no
medications during the study, except for the acetaminophen sup-
plied by us. All participants denied having taken acetylsalicylic acid
from 1 mo preceding the study until the end of the study.
Blood sampling
Blood samples were taken on days 14, 28, and 42 as described
above. About 25 mL blood was drawn 90 min after subjects had
consumed the supplement. Subjects were in a supine position for
20 min before until the end of venipuncture. Blood was drawn
into tubes containing a final concentration of 10.9 mmol sodium
citrate/L. Samples for coagulation and fibrinolysis measure-
ments were put on ice immediately.
Immediately after venipuncture 1 mL citrated blood was incu-
bated in a prewarmed aggregometer (37°C) and stirred at 1000
rpm. Exactly 5 min later 10 mL collagen suspension (final con-
centration: 2 mg/L) was added and whole-blood aggregation was
recorded for 10 min on a computerized system with an imped-
ance method. Maximal aggregation was measured in whole
blood to study effects of the supplements on platelet aggregation
under most physiologic conditions.
Platelet-rich plasma containing 250 3 10
platelets/L was pre-
pared as described previously (40). Some diluted platelet-rich
plasma was frozen in fluid nitrogen and stored at 280 °C for
determination of flavonoid concentrations. HPLC separation was
used combined with fluorescence detection for determination of
quercetin (41) and with ultraviolet detection for apigenin con-
centrations (35). The interassay CV for quercetin in plasma was
<10% and the intraassay CV was 4%.
For each aggregation, 400 mL platelet-rich plasma was incu-
bated in a prewarmed (37 °C) aggregometer and stirred at 1000
rpm. Exactly 5 min later, 10 mL collagen (final concentration:
2.0 mg/L) or ADP (final concentration: 1.5 and 3.0 mmol/L) was
added to induce aggregation. The change in percentage of trans-
mitted light was monitored continuously for 10 min and maximal
aggregation was calculated as described for the in vitro study.
Aggregations in platelet-rich plasma were carried out to compare
our results with the results of others and with the results of our
in vitro data. Maximally stimulated thromboxane B
in platelet-rich plasma was measured as described earlier (40) as
a specific measure of active cyclooxygenase present. All samples
of one subject were analyzed within one run.
Immediately after blood sampling, plasma for measurements of
coagulation and fibrinolysis indexes was separated by centrifuga-
tion at 1500 3 g for 20 min at 4°C. It was divided into aliquots,
snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at 280 °C. Factor VII
and plasminogen activity were determined with a laser-nephelo-
metric centrifugal ACL-200 analyzer (Instrument Laboratory,
Milano, Italy). Factor VII clotting time was determined in a stan-
dard one-stage assay: plasma samples and factor VII–deficient
plasma were mixed, the clotting process was initiated, and clotting
time was measured by using PT-fibrinogen and thromboplastin,
both from the Instrumentation Laboratory (IJsselstein, Nether-
lands), and factor VII from Organon Technica (Oss, Netherlands).
Plasminogen activity was determined according to the test manu-
facturer’s instructions by using COATEST antiplasmine and strep-
tokinase from Chromogenix (Amsterdam). Blood for a normal
plasma pool was donated by 40 healthy volunteers. Factor VII and
plasminogen results were expressed in percentages relative to val-
ues for this pool. Standards for factor VII and plasminogen mea-
surements were derived from BIOPOOL (hemostasis reference
plasma; Kordia, Leiden, Netherlands). Plasma fibrinogen concen-
trations were determined with an STA II coagulation analyzer
(STA-fibrinogen; Diagnostica Stago, Boehringer Mannheim,
Mannheim, Germany): a fixed surplus of thrombin was added to
diluted platelet-poor plasma samples and the clotting time of a
series of dilutions of a human plasma pool with a known fibrino-
gen concentration was measured. Standards for fibrinogen mea-
surements were derived from Boehringer Mannheim (STA-Preci-
clot I and II). PAI-1 activity was measured with a chromogenic
assay (Spectrolyse/pL PAI; Biopool, Umea, Sweden). Plasmino-
gen and factor VII measurements were done in duplicate; fibrino-
gen and PAI-1 measurements were done once.
We checked the data for normality using residual analysis
(42). Effects of onions and parsley were analyzed by using the
general linear model (analysis of variance, fixed effect) of the
Statistical Analysis System (a = 0.05) (43), with subject and
treatment as class variables. A period term was introduced into
the model to check for time effects, and a treatment-by-period
interaction term to check for carryover effects. Subsequently,
95% CIs were calculated for the effects of onions and parsley.
For aggregation in platelet-rich plasma, the power to detect a
difference between two aggregation measurements was 90% to
detect a difference of 9% (a = 0.05). In whole-blood aggregation
a difference of 7% could be detected (a = 0.05; within-person
variation: 8%). The difference in platelet thromboxane B
duction that could be detected in this study was 8% (power: 90%,
a = 0.05; within person variation: 10%).
In vitro study
Indomethacin at a concentration of 1 mmol/L inhibited maxi-
mal collagen-induced aggregation in human platelet-rich plasma
by 67% and in washed platelets by 74%; 1000 mmol/L inhibited
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aggregation in platelet-rich plasma by 98% and in washed
platelets by 82% (data not shown). ADP-induced aggregation
was hardly affected.
Catechin inhibited collagen- and ADP-induced aggregation in
platelet-rich plasma significantly only at a concentration of 2500
mmol/L (Figures 2 and 3): average maximum collagen-induced
aggregation was inhibited by 59 ± 25% (95% CI: 19%, 99%),
and ADP-induced aggregation by 26 ± 17% (95% CI: 1%, 53%).
Results in washed platelets were similar to results found in
platelet-rich plasma (data not shown).
Apigenin at a concentration of 2.5 mmol/L inhibited collagen-
induced aggregation in platelet-rich plasma by 24 ± 34% (NS)
and ADP-induced aggregation by 22 ± 33% (NS). Concentra-
tions of 2500 mmol/L significantly inhibited collagen-induced
aggregation by 91 ± 4% (95% CI: 85%, 97%) and ADP-induced
aggregation by 80 ± 13% (95% CI: 59%, 101%) (Figures 2 and
In platelet-rich plasma, 2500 mmol/L of the flavonol quercetin
significantly inhibited collagen-induced aggregation by 95 ± 4%
(95% CI: 89%, 101%) and ADP-induced aggregation by 97 ± 4%
(95% CI: 91%, 103%). Lower concentrations of quercetin were
ineffective (Figures 2 and 3).
Concentrations of 0.25-2500 mmol/L of the flavonol gluco-
side quercetin-3-glucoside did not significantly affect platelet
aggregation (Figures 2 and 3). Effects on aggregation in washed
platelets were comparable with those in platelet-rich plasma
(Figures 2 and 3).
Dietary supplement study
No adverse reactions to the supplements were reported,
although some subjects had difficulties in consuming the amount
of onions all at once. One subject consumed only part of the
onion supplement on one occasion; the leftovers contained 29
mg quercetin. Subjects consumed negligible amounts of
flavonol- or flavone-rich products during the study.
Concentrations of quercetin in platelet-rich plasma were 1.48
± 0.39 mmol/L (447 ± 117 ng/mL) 90 min after consumption of
onions and 0.02 ± 0.01 mmol/L (5 ± 4 ng/mL) after placebo. Api-
genin concentrations in platelet-rich plasma were all below the
limit of detection of 1.1 mmol/L, or 330 ng/mL.
Daily consumption of 220 g cooked onions or 4.9 g dried pars-
ley for 7 d did not significantly affect collagen-induced platelet
aggregation in whole blood or platelet-rich plasma; ADP-induced
platelet aggregation in platelet-rich plasma; thromboxane B
duction in platelet-rich plasma; platelet number; factor VII, plas-
minogen, and PAI-1 activity; or fibrinogen concentrations (Table
1). There were no treatment-sequence or time effects.
The in vitro study showed that a test tube addition of 0.25–250
mmol/L of apigenin, catechin, quercetin, or quercetin-3-gluco-
side did not inhibit collagen- or ADP-induced aggregation in
human platelets. Quercetin, apigenin, and catechin concentra-
tions of 2500 mmol/L inhibited platelet aggregation significantly
in vitro, whereas quercetin-3-glucoside still had no significant
effect. The dietary supplement study showed that administration
of large amounts of foods rich in apigenin or quercetin gluco-
sides did not affect platelet aggregation or other hemostatic vari-
ables in healthy volunteers.
In vitro study
We carried out highly standardized aggregation measurements
in both studies. Published in vitro studies were not always strict-
ly standardized as to platelet number and optimal stimulus con-
centration for each donor, and the experimental conditions var-
ied from one study to another, which probably explains the large
variation in outcome (14–21).
To check the validity of the in vitro aggregation measurements,
indomethacin was used as a positive and catechin as a negative
control. As expected, indomethacin—a specific inhibitor of
cyclooxygenase (44)—inhibited in vitro platelet aggregation
induced by collagen but not by ADP. We therefore conclude that
our assay could detect specific inhibiting effects on cyclooxyge-
nase activity in both platelet-rich plasma and washed platelets.
The in vitro study showed that concentrations of 0.25 and 2.5
FIGURE 2. Relation between flavonoid concentration added to
platelet-rich plasma in vitro and maximal platelet aggregation induced
with collagen (n = 4). d, catechin; s, quercetin; ,, quercetin-3-gluco-
side; j, apigenin.
FIGURE 3. Relation between flavonoid concentration added to
platelet-rich plasma in vitro and maximal platelet aggregation induced
with ADP (n = 4). d, catechin; s, quercetin; ,, quercetin-3-glucoside;
j, apigenin.
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mmol catechin/L, which has a high affinity for proteins, did not
affect collagen- or ADP-induced platelet aggregation, although
unphysiologically high concentrations (2500 mmol/L) did (Fig-
ures 2 and 3). The latter may be a nonspecific inhibiting effect
because flavonoids readily bind to proteins (33). Thus, it is not
likely that nonspecific protein binding would explain the possible
effects of flavonoids at physiologic concentrations.
Dietary supplement study
Values of the hemostatic variables measured in the dietary
supplement study after treatment with placebo were in the nor-
mal range for healthy volunteers (Table 1). The design of the
dietary supplement study was not optimal: a controlled feeding
study would have reduced potential confounding from foods
eaten during the study. However, data from the diaries, body
weights, and 24-h recalls did not reveal any confounding effects.
Furthermore, all 18 subjects ate the supplements under our
supervision and plasma quercetin concentrations after treatment
with placebo indicated negligible dietary quercetin contents in
the background diets. These findings indicate that there was no
evidence for confounding in our study.
Plasma quercetin concentrations after treatment with the
onion supplement indicated that quercetin was absorbed. We
bought all onions, parsley, and bouillon before the study to
exclude differences between batches. We stored all onion sup-
plements at –20°C and parsley in the dark at room temperature
to diminish changes in composition. We also prepared all sup-
plements in a standardized way (see Methods) to prevent differ-
ences in composition of the supplements during the study.
Comparison with results of earlier studies
Gryglewski et al (17) reported stimulation of cyclooxygenase
activity after adding quercetin or rutin to ram seminal vesicle
microsomes. In contrast, results of other structure-function stud-
ies suggest that flavones such as apigenin are strong inhibitors
and flavonols such as quercetin are moderate inhibitors of
cylooxygenase. Those studies also suggested that glycosylated
compounds are less potent inhibitors of cyclooxygenase than
their aglycones (14, 21). A major drawback of in vitro studies
done earlier is that only the effects of unphysiologically high
flavonoid contents (> 10 mmol/L) were studied (14–21). It was
shown recently that plasma peak quercetin concentrations in
humans were 0.6 mmol/L after consumption of 64 mg quercetin
from onions (23). Although no data on apigenin absorption are
available, our data showed that plasma peak apigenin concentra-
tions in humans were < 1.1 mmol/L. We found that the flavone
apigenin and the flavonol quercetin significantly inhibited colla-
gen-induced aggregation in vitro only at concentrations of 2500
mmol/L, whereas quercetin-3-glucoside, the form in which
quercetin appears in foods and in which it is probably absorbed
(22), did not affect collagen- or ADP-induced aggregation. The
quercetin concentration in platelet-rich plasma after onion con-
sumption was comparable with data reported earlier (23). The
apigenin concentration in platelet-rich plasma could not be quan-
tified because of the high limit of detection (1.1 mmol/L, or 330
ng/mL). Thus, it is unclear whether apigenin was absorbed. It is
unlikely that apigenin absorption was inhibited by dietary pro-
teins because the subjects were not allowed to eat or drink any-
thing until 2 h after consumption of the supplements, and the
supplements contained hardly any protein. The plasma concen-
tration of quercetin suggests that these measures were adequate.
Hemostatic variables in healthy volunteers after consumption of placebo or 220 g onions or 4.9 g parsley daily for 7 d
Effect (treatment2placebo)
Variables Placebo
Factor VII activity (n = 18) (%) 92 ± 25 24 ± 13 (210, 2) 21 ± 2 (22, 0)
Fibrinogen (n = 18) (g/L) 2.4 ± 0.6 0.1 ± 0.7 (20.2, 0.4) 0.2 ± 0.6 (20.1, 0.5)
Plasminogen activity (n = 17) (%) 87 ± 19 1 ± 8 (23, 5) 0 ± 6 (23, 3)
PAI-1 activity (n = 17) (kU/L) 4.35 ± 3.54 20.90 ± 3.17
(22.66, 0.86) 0.31 ± 3.97
(21.73, 2.35)
Maximally stimulated thromboxane
production in platelet-rich plasma (n = 18) (nmol/10
platelets) 2502 ± 593 2122 ± 438 (2340, 96) 2131 ± 503 (2381, 119)
Maximal collagen-induced aggregation in whole blood
(final 2 mg/L; n = 18) (V) 14 ± 4 20.6 ± 5.2 (23.2, 2.0) 20.1 ± 5.7 (22.9, 2.7)
Maximal collagen-induced aggregation in platelet-rich plasma
(final 2 mg/L; n = 13) (%) 84 ± 13 26.4 ± 14.5 (215.2, 2.4) 210.5 ± 27.4 (227.1, 6.1)
Maximal ADP-induced aggregation in platelet-rich plasma
(final 1.5 mmol/L; n = 18) (%)
23 ± 8 7 ± 20
(24, 18) 6 ± 19
(24, 16)
Maximal ADP-induced aggregation (%) in platelet-rich plasma
(final 3 mmol/L; n = 16) (%)
57 ± 28 28 ± 22
(220, 4) 26 ± 26
(220, 8)
Platelet number (n = 18) (310
/L) 235 ± 47 0 ± 28 (214, 14) 9 ± 25 (23, 21)
± SD; 95% CIs in parentheses.
Quercetin concentration in platelet-rich plasma: 0.02 ± 0.01 mmol/L.
Quercetin concentration in platelet-rich plasma: 1.48 ± 0.39 mmol/L.
Apigenin concentrations in platelet-rich plasma were lower than the limit of detection (1.1 mmol/L).
n = 15.
n = 17.
First wave.
n = 16.
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It is possible that plasma peak values and elimination curves of
apigenin are different from quercetin (23) and that blood sam-
pling at a different time point would reveal apigenin concentra-
tions higher than the detection limit. In any case, if apigenin is
absorbed, the prolonged supplementation would ensure interac-
tion with the blood components. Epidemiologic studies showed
that the inverse association between dietary flavonoid intake and
ischemic heart disease risk was strongest with quercetin (9).
Also, average daily dietary intake of quercetin was high (16 mg),
compared with intake of apigenin (1 mg) in the Netherlands (5).
In accordance with our in vitro data, no effect of consumption
of apigenin- or quercetin-rich foods was found on collagen-
induced aggregation in whole blood and platelet-rich plasma, on
ADP-induced aggregation in platelet-rich plasma, on thrombox-
ane production, or on other hemostatic variables (Table 1). These
findings indicate that daily consumption of large amounts of
quercetin- or apigenin-rich foods may not be effective in inhibit-
ing cyclooxygenase activity or platelet aggregation in human
We think that the treatment periods of the dietary supplement
study were long enough to detect possible effects on blood
platelet function. Blood platelets have a mean lifetime of 7–10 d;
therefore, treatment for 7 d with high doses of flavonoids should
be sufficient to determine effects on platelet aggregation and
thromboxane B
production. We showed earlier in healthy vol-
unteers that doses as small as 3 mg acetylsalicylic acid/d inhib-
ited maximally stimulated platelet thromboxane production by
39 ± 8% (40). Therefore, we think that our study group was large
enough to detect relevant effects on thromboxane production and
platelet aggregation (Table 1). However, we might have missed
small but biologically relevant effects (29–32) of the dietary
flavonoids on the coagulation and fibrinolytic indexes measured
(Table 1); this possibility should be examined in a larger study
The results of the present study agree with results from the
dietary supplement study of Srivastava (45). They found no
effects of consumption of 70 g raw onions/d for 7 d on platelet
thromboxane production in five healthy volunteers: the mean
effect of onion consumption on thromboxane production was 95
± 756 nmol/L serum (n = 5). However, these authors could have
missed biologically significant effects because of the small study
sample, the low dose, and the large variation in the outcome vari-
able. We did not find any effects in a larger group consuming 220
g onions/d. Hertog et al (5) showed that the average daily intake
with the Dutch diet was 16 mg quercetin/d and 1 mg apigenin/d
(5). In our dietary supplement study the participants consumed
high doses of flavonoids: 114 mg quercetin/d and 84 mg api-
genin/d. We think that consumption of higher doses is impracti-
cal in a normal mixed diet.
Suggestions for an antiaggregatory effect of flavonoids are based
on the in vitro use of concentrations that cannot be attained in vivo
by dietary consumption. Reported effects of dietary flavonoids on
ischemic heart disease risk are possibly not mediated through col-
lagen- or ADP-induced platelet aggregation or cyclooxygenase
activity. We cannot exclude small biologically relevant effects of
dietary flavonoids on known risk indicators for ischemic heart dis-
ease from the coagulation cascade or fibrinolytic system, which
should be examined in a larger population.
We thank the participants for their cooperation; M Buijsman, A Hansel-
man, M Mommersteeg, M Straatman, E Voorter, J Wierts, and I Zijp for tech-
nical assistance; N Duif for checking the medical questionnaires; S Meyboom
for developing the supplements and for coordinating the food-consumption
analyses; and EJM Feskens, JGAJ Hautvast, D Kromhout, WA van Staveren,
and JJ Zwaginga for helpful suggestions. We thank the Department of Hema-
tology, Academic Hospital, Utrecht, Netherlands, for making their equipment
available to us.
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... Regarding quercetin glucoside-rich foods, nine published works on onion intake are summarized in Table 2. In one study, continual onion consumption for 7 days did not result in any effects on platelet aggregation or other homeostatic variables, although mean plasma quercetin concentration was raised [176]. In another study, the treatment of stable type 2-diabetic patients with daily quercetin supplements (76-110 mg) provided by onion and tea for 2 weeks lowered the oxidative damage caused by hydrogen peroxide to freshly prepared lymphocyte DNA [177]. ...
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... IC50 values of isolated compound 5, 7, 4'-trihydroxy 3'methoxy isoflavanone for collagen-induced platelet aggregation were well comparable with standard quercetin, of which the inhibitory action is well documented [17,18]. Janssen et al. [19] found that 2500 mmol/l of flavonol quercetin significantly inhibited collagen and ADP-induced platelet aggregation in platelet-rich plasma and washed platelets by approximately 80-97%. Flavonoids have been shown to have a number of antithrombotic actions [20,21] Both in vitro incubation and oral supplementation with select flavonoid fractions isolated from purple grape juice (PGJ) decrease platelet aggregation, increase platelet-derived NO release, and decrease superoxide production [22]. ...
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Within the S1A family of proteases, trypsin-like serine enzymes, are critical proteolytic enzymes for living organisms including human beings. Proteolytic activity plays an essential role in regulating physiological activities at different levels in the human body, from major organ levels such as in the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and muscles, to the cellular level and subcellular level such as in mitochondria, which is considered the powerhouse of the cell. Trypsin activity is significantly affected by the many factors in the environment that the enzymes are exposed to, particularly the presence of trypsin inhibitors (TIs). Buckwheat, a pseudocereal, is a major grain alternative that grows in many regions around the globe, especially in remote areas where the growing conditions are not preferred for other major crops such as wheat, soy, and corn. Buckwheat contains seven main TIs (BTIs), including BTI I, IIa, IIb, and IIIa of permanent inhibitors (6000–7000 Da) and BTI IIc, BTI IIIb1, and BTI IIIb2 of temporary inhibitors (10,000–11,500 Da). Bioactive components, such as proteins, flavonoids, and phytosterol, from buckwheat have shown many potential health benefits including hypocholesterolemia, hypotension, hypoglycemia, preventing DNA oxidative damage of lymphocytes, anticancer, antiviral, and antimicrobial functions. Recent research demonstrated that buckwheat TIs may play critical roles in maintaining mitochondrial homeostasis by directly targeting the mitochondria and inducing mitochondrial fragmentation and mitophagy. BTIs can be genetically engineered and expressed with microorganism vectors such as Escherichia coli and thus produced through the commercial fermentation and isolation process. The recombinant buckwheat TI (rBTI), functions the same as that of BTI I, which belongs to potato TI family I. It has been reported that the rBTI, which is similar to that of BTIs, shows significant potential health benefits, including anti-obesity by preventing fat accumulation, improving Alzheimer’s disease by delaying amyloid-beta peptide triggered body paralysis, promoting mitochondrial autophagy, and alleviating age-related functional decline via DAF-16. rBTI also showed significant dose-dependent, anti-cancer effects by inducing H22 hepatic cancer cell apoptosis. rBTI directly binds to TOM20 complex of mitochondria in the disease-altered cells, causing increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and reduced ATP production, then further causing mitophagy via mitochondrial fragmentation and PKD activation. Mitochondrial homeostasis plays critical roles in: maintaining normal cellular activity, disease prevention, and the healthy aging process. More in-depth studies are needed to further understand the pathways and mechanisms through which BTIs and rBTI promote healthy mitochondrial homeostasis. BTIs and rBTI may provide potent tools for preventing and curing some chronic diseases, particularly age-related diseases.
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Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. In spite of advances in the treatment of cancer, currently used treatment modules including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy causes adverse effects and kills the normal cells. Therefore, the goal of more effective and less side effects-based cancer treatment approaches is still at the primary position of present research. Medicinal plants or their bioactive ingredients act as dynamic sources of drugs due to their having less side effects and also shows the role in reduction of resistance against cancer therapy. Apigenin is an edible plant-derived flavonoid that has received significant scientific consideration for its health-promoting potential through modulation of inflammation, oxidative stress and various other biological activities. Moreover, the anti-cancer potential of apigenin is confirmed through its ability to modulate various cell signalling pathways, including tumor suppressor genes, angiogenesis, apoptosis, cell cycle, inflammation, apoptosis, PI3K/AKT, NF-κB, MAPK/ERK and STAT3 pathways. The current review mainly emphases the potential role of apigenin in different types of cancer through the modulation of various cell signaling pathways. Further studies based on clinical trials are needed to explore the role of apigenin in cancer management and explain the possible potential mechanisms of action in this vista.
Several experimental and biological studies have emphasized the tumor suppression efficacy and low toxicity of Apigenin (API); however, its exact underlying mechanism on human endometrial carcinoma Ishikawa cell line (EC) is still unknown. We found that API could inhibit the proliferation of Ishikawa cells at IC50 of 45.55 μM, arrest the cell cycle at G2/M phase, induce apoptosis by inhibiting Bcl-xl and increasing Bax, Bak and Caspases. Further, API could induce apoptosis by activating the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway by increasing the Ca²⁺, ATF4, and CHOP. It could impede cell migration and invasion through PI3K-AKT-GSK-3β signaling pathway, preventing wound healing, restraining cells migration from the upper chamber to the lower chamber. This study demonstrated that API can be used as a promising dietary supplement and an adjuvant chemotherapeutic agent for cancer treatment.
No doubt can remain that the flavonoids have profound effects on the function of immune and inflammatory cells as determined by a large number and variety of in vitro and some in vivo observations. That these ubiquitous dietary chemicals may have significant in vivo effects on homeostasis within the immune system and on the behavior of secondary cell systems comprising the inflammatory response seems highly likely but more work is required to strengthen this hypothesis. Ample evidence indicates that selected flavonoids, depending on structure, can affect (usually inhibit) secretory processes, mitogenesis, and cell-cell interactions including possible effects on adhesion molecule expression and function. The possible action of flavonoids on the function of cytoskeletal elements is suggested by their effects on secretory processes. Moreover, evidence indicates that certain flavonoids may affect gene expression and the elaboration and effects of cytokines and cytokine receptors. How all of these effects are mediated is not yet clear but one important mechanism may be the capacity of flavonoids to stimulate or inhibit protein phosphorylation and thereby regulate cell function. Perhaps the counterbalancing effect of cellular protein tyrosine phosphatases will also be found to be affected by flavonoids. Some flavonoid effects can certainly be attributed to their recognized antioxidant and radical scavenging properties. A potential mechanism of action that requires scrutiny, particularly in relation to enzyme inhibition, is the redox activity of appropriately configured flavonoids. Finally, in a number of cell systems it seems that resting cells are not affected significantly by flavonoids but once a cell becomes activated by a physiological stimulus a flavonoid-sensitive substance is generated and interaction of flavonoids with that substance dramatically alters the outcome of the activation process.