Red Wine Increases Expression of Human Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 7 No. 1 • February 2004

Red Wine Increases Expression of Human Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase

A number of scientists have suggested that the cardioprotective effect of wine, and especially red wine, cannot be explained by the antioxidant effects of its phenolic constituents and that other mechanisms need to be examined. A new paper1 reports such an antioxidant-independent beneficial effect of red wine: it increases the expression of nitric oxide synthase by human endothelial cells in culture. The effects were reported using several French red wines, as noted by the authors, who also report finding little or no effect on endothelial nitric oxide synthase with the German wines they used. The authors (all located in Germany) attributed the differences between the two countries’ wines to the French red wines’ “contain[ing] high polyphenol levels compared with wines from other regions.” We have read elsewhere that red wines from Argentina and Chile are particularly rich in polyphenols. As a rough general rule, the darker the (red) wine, the higher the polyphenol content.

If this effect also occurs in human endothelial cells in vivo, it would mean that for any given amount of arginine available in the bloodstream, more arginine would be used by nitric oxide synthase to produce nitric oxide, thus improving endothelial function. Since arginase and nitric oxide synthase compete for the common substrate arginine, there would be less arginine used by the arginase pathway as compared to that which would occur at a lower level of expression of nitric oxide synthase.

  1. Wallerath et al. Red wine increases the expression of human endothelial nitric oxide synthase. J Am Coll Cardiol 41:471-8 (2003).

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