Oxidative stress and overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) play important roles in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality (1,2). Their role has been well defined in blood vessels and in the heart (3), while the importance of oxidative stress in modulating platelet function remains unclear. Platelets have been demonstrated to produce significant amounts of ROS, particularly superoxide anion. Nox-2 based oxidases and dysfunctional NOS have been implicated as important sources of superoxide anion in platelets (4). Moreover, certain cardiovascular pathologies, particularly type 2 diabetes (5) are associated with increased platelet superoxide production. It is important to note, however, that the majority of previous studies measured artificially stimulated superoxide production from platelets (i.e. fMLP, PMA or collagen or thrombin) (6), which may remain very distant from their real basal status in vivo
. The basal superoxide production from human platelets remains undefined.
Several studies have suggested that ROS can significantly modify platelet functions
including platelet surface markers expression, as well as platelet aggregation.
It is not clear if superoxide anion scavenging by pre-incubation of platelets
with SOD can affect platelet aggregation (4). Krotz et al
have shown that while platelet-derived superoxide anion did not influence initial
aggregation, platelet recruitment to a preformed thrombus following collagen
stimulation was significantly attenuated by superoxide dismutase (SOD) (4).
NADPH oxidase inhibition in platelets using either a non specific flavin oxidase
inhibitor (DPI) or specific oxidase activation inhibitor (apocynin) lead to
a similar effect (7).
Moreover, similar effects have been shown by polyphenols which apart from ROS scavenging properties have been shown to inhibit platelet NADPH oxidase in a PKC dependent manner (8). These effects were not only observed using isolated polyphenolic compounds, but also when extracts of certain plants like grape seeds were used (9, 10).
Accordingly, in the present study we aimed to investigate the basal superoxide
production from human platelets, along with platelet aggregation induced by
collagen and thrombin in relation to cardiovascular risk profile. We also investigated
the effects of polyphenol rich extracts of Aronia melanocarpa
(chokeberry) on platelet superoxide production and platelet aggregation. Chokeberry
is a particularly abundant source of polyphenols, which may act as ROS scavengers
and could modify the activity of platelet NADPH oxidase. Berries of Aronia
along with crowberry show one of the highest contents of phenolic
compounds (Gallic Acid Equivalents (GAE) > 20 mg/g), among different natural
products studied (11).
The role of superoxide production and studies of the effects of chokeberry extracts on platelets were studied in two distinct groups of subjects – controls without cardiovascular risk factors and patients with significant cardiovascular risk factor profile.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We studied platelets isolated from control subjects without risk factors for
atherosclerosis (n=15) and 15 subjects with risk factors for atherosclerosis.
The clinical characteristics of both groups of patients is presented in Table
. Subjects were not receiving any medications which could affect platelet
function during the 2 weeks preceding the study. The study was approved by Local
Bioethics Committee and informed consent was obtained from all individuals.
Risk factor profile of studied subjects.
A. melanocarpa extracts
Main content of polyphenols within A. melanocarpa extract preparation
Aronox. Data based on information supplied by producer (Agropharm SA).
Extracts of A. melanocarpa used were purchased from Agropharm SA (Poland).
These extracts contain ca. 60% of total polyphenols, including minimum 20% of
anthocyanins (Table 2
). As total polyphenolic compounds are the major
bioactive components of extracts used, in all figures values of concentrations
of A. melanocarpa
extracts are shown as polyphenol concentrations.
Platelet isolation and aggregation
Citrateted blood (3.2%, 1:9 v/v) was centrifuged at 250 ×g for 20 min in order
to obtain platelet rich plasma. Washed platelets were isolated from platelet
rich plasma washed twice in PGI2-containing PBS using modified method as described
previously suspended (at 2×108
calcium-free PBS containing 0.1% albumin.
Platelet aggregation was assessed in using a dual channel Chronolog aggregometer as previously described by us. The baseline value was set using washed platelets while buffer served as full transmittance control. 500µl of washed platelets were equilibrated for 3 minutes at 37°C with continuous stirring and then stimulated with collagen (2 ug/ml) or thrombin (20 mU/ml) to induce aggregation.
Concentrations of collagen and thrombin leading to sub-maximal aggregation were determined in preliminary experiments.
Increasing concentrations of A. melanocarpa
extracts were added to platelets
and incubated for 2 minutes prior to determination of collagen (2 µg/ml) or
thrombin (20mU/ml) induced aggregation. Values were expressed as relative units
of maximal aggregation achieved in relation to baseline values obtained as described
Platelet superoxide production
Platelet superoxide production was measured using lucigenin enhanced chemiluminescence
(LGCL) using a modified version of a method described before (12). Contamination
by polymorphonuclear cells of washed platelet preparations was checked microscopically
and only samples showing contamination < 1 PMN /108
platelets. Briefly platelets after isolation were equilibrated for 5 minutes
in the presence or absence of varying concentrations of A. melanocarpa
extracts containing polyphenols. Following this equal number of platelets (105
platelets) were added to a scintillation vial containing 2 ml of 25uM lucigenin
solution in Krebs-HEPES buffer. Luminescence was recorded over 25 minutes, or
until a plateau was reached using a single channel luminometer (Berthold FB12)
modified to maintain constant temperature 37°C as described before. Values were
expressed as RLU/sec/105
for superoxide was confirmed by pre-incubation with PEG-SOD (250U/ml) or with
Tiron (1mM) as described before (13).
Vascular function was measured as flow mediated dilatation in patients with risk factors for atherosclerosis and further related to platelet aggregation studies performed on washed platelets isolated from the same individuals. FMD was studied using Toshiba SSA-340 ultrasound machine using linear 8MHz probe. Patients were rested for at least 15 minutes prior to endothelial function determinations in a dark quiet room. Arm was immobilized using a custom arm rest. Blood pressure cuff was placed on the forearm and brachial artery was located 3-5 cm above the antecubital fossa and baseline brachial artery diameter was measured. Next blood pressure cuff was inflated above the systolic blood pressure value. After 3 minutes flow was restored by releasing the blood pressure cuff and vasorelaxation of brachial artery in response to flow was determined after 2 and 5 minutes. Non endothelium dependent relaxations were determined as vasorelaxations induced by sublingual nitroglycerine administration. FMD values were expressed as % of change in relation to initial diameter.
Results are expressed as means ± SEM or medians ± 25th
percentiles depending on the distribution of data. n equals to the number of
patients. Statistical comparisons between the two groups were made using Students
t-test for independent or dependent samples when sample distribution was normal
or using non-parametric Mann Whitney U test for samples without normal distribution.
Correlations were assessed using Pearson statistics. p values <0.05 were considered
Platelet superoxide production and cardiovascular risk
Basal superoxide production was observed in washed platelets isolated from all
studied subjects. Superoxide production was inhibited by SOD (250U/ml) or Tiron
(1mM) confirming the specificity of the assays for superoxide. The values of
superoxide production varied over 10 fold between different individuals. Moreover,
we observed that basal superoxide production was significantly higher in patients
with risk factors for atherosclerosis when compared to the control group, free
of risk factors (Figure 1A
Platelet aggregation and cardiovascular risk
Figure 1. Platelet superoxide production (panel A) and aggregation
induced by thrombin (20mU/ml; panel B) or collagen (2µg/ml; panel C)
in patients with and without cardiovascular risk factors. Superoxide
production was measured in washed platelets using lucigenin enhanced
chemiluminescence (25µM; n=15). Platelet aggregation was determined
as described in methods section. Boxes indicate 75th and 25th percentile.
Lines within boxes indicate medians. Lines within boxes indicate medians
and whiskers – range of non-outlying values. *p < 0.02 vs. control.
Variability was also observed between individual subjects in relation to platelet
aggregation in response to thrombin (20mU/ml) and collagen (2ug/ml). Concentrations
of agents used to stimulate aggregation were determined in preliminary experiments
as leading to sub-maximal aggregation. Although a trend was observed towards
higher values of platelet aggregation in response to either thrombin or collagen
in patients with cardiovascular risk factors, the difference did not reach statistical
significance (Figure 1 B
Relationship between platelet superoxide production and platelet function
Previous study has suggested ex vivo
that superoxide production by Nox2-dependent
NADPH oxidase is important in the regulation of platelet aggregation, we next
aimed to study if this effect could be observed in a clinical setting. As both
platelet superoxide production and aggregation showed significant variability,
we next aimed to determine the relationship between these two parameters in
a subgroup of patients. No significant relationship was found between platelet
superoxide production and their aggregation in response to collagen (R=-0.1;
p=NS) (Figure 2A
). Interestingly no significant relationship was observed
when it was assessed in subgroups depending on the presence of risk factors
for atherosclerosis either. Similarly no significant relationship was found
in relation to thrombin induced platelet aggregation (data not shown).
Relationship between endothelial dysfunction and platelet superoxide production
||Figure 2. Relationships between
platelet aggregation in response to collagen and platelet superoxide production
(Panel A; n=12; R=-0.1; p=NS) and between platelet aggregation and endothelial
function (Panel B; n=12, R=-0.13; p=NS).
Endothelial function could be another important determinant of platelet function,
particularly in patients with clinical risk factors for atherosclerosis. Accordingly,
we have determined a relationship between flow mediated dilatation of brachial
artery and collagen induced platelet aggregation. In the studied group of subjects
no significant association was found between these parameters (Figure 2B
Antioxidant effects of Aronia melanocarpa extracts in platelets – relationship to cardiovascular risk factor profile
Next we investigated anti-oxidant properties of the extracts of A. melanocarpa
naturally occurring plant, berries of which are particularly rich in anti-oxidative
polyphenols as discussed in the Methods (see Table 2
). We observed that
polyphenol rich extracts of A. melanocarpa
lead to a significant, concentration
dependent decrease in superoxide production from washed platelets only in subjects
with cardiovascular risk factors, in whom superoxide production was initially
increased (Figure 3B
), but not in platelets isolated from control group
subjects (without cardiovascular risk factors; Figure 3A
). Moreover superoxide
production in platelets from patients with high cardiovascular risk was decreased
by A. melanocarpa
extracts to a level comparable to levels observed in
a control group (Figure 3A
). It is also important to note
that only A. melanocarpa
extracts were effective in anti-oxidative action
in human platelets when concentrations of polypohenols reached levels of 1µg/ml,
at which concentrations, polyphenols of A. melanocarpa may exert free radical
scavenging effect rather than inhibitory effect toward platelet oxidases (N.
Ryszawa, T Guzik, unpublished data).
Effects of Aronia melanocarpa extracts on platelet function.
|| Figure 3. Effects of increasing
concentrations of polyphenols from A. melanocarpa berry extracts
on superoxide production from washed platelets isolated from control subjects
(panel A) and patients with risk factors for atherosclerosis (panel B).
Superoxide production was determined using LGCL (20µM) as described above.
Concentrations shown on X axis refer to total polyphenol content within
A. melanocarpa extract solution. Data in panel A are presented
as medians (lines within boxes) and 75th
and 15th percentile (boxes) (distribution
not normal). Data in panel B are shown as means +/-SEM. (normal distribution)
* - p<0.05 vs. native using appropriate tests depending on data distribution.
Next the effects of A. melanocarpa
extracts were studied in relation
to platelet aggregation in both control subjects and patients with significant
cardiovascular risk factors. In contrary to the effects on superoxide production,
extracts caused significant inhibition of platelet aggregation
induced by thrombin or by collagen in both studied groups of subjects i.e. in
both control group and patients with significant cardiovascular risk (Figure
). Importantly, no difference in dose range that caused inhibition of aggregation
was observed between the groups and A. melanocarpa
polyphenol rich extracts
exerted their protective action at relatively high concentrations. At lower
concentrations (0.001-1 µg of polyphenols per ml) no significant effect on platelet
aggregation was observed (data not shown).
Potential role of platelet derived NO in anti-aggregatory effects of A. melanocarpa extracts
4. Effects of increasing concentrations of polyphenols from A.
melanocarpa berry extracts on platelet aggregation induced by thrombin
(20mU/ml; top panels) and collagen (2ug/ml; bottom panels) from control
subjects (right panels) and patients with risk factors for atherosclerosis
(left panels). Boxes indicate 75th and 25th percentile. Lines within boxes
indicate medians and whiskers – range of non-outlying values. *p < 0.02
As the anti-aggregatory effects of A. melanocarpa
extracts appeared to
occur independently of it’s effects on superoxide production, we next investigated
a possibility that major anti-aggregatory effect of relatively high concentrations
of A. melanocarpa
extracts are mediated by it’s effects on NO metabolism.
NO has been shown to be released from platelets and cNOS is one of the important
targets of polyphenolic compounds actions.
Accordingly platelet aggregation was studied in washed platelets isolated from
subjects without and with cardiovascular risk profile in the presence and in
the absence of NOS inhibitor L-NAME (200µM). We observed that pre-incubation
of platelets with L-NAME did not change platelet aggregation at baseline induced
by either thrombin or collagen (Figure 5
). Moreover, we observed that
L-NAME did not modify anti-aggregatory properties of A. melanocarpa
indicating that NOS derived NO from platelets is not involved in protective,
direct anti-aggregatory effects of A. melanocarpa
on platelets (Figure
||Figure 5. Effects of A.
melanocarpa polyphenols on platelet aggregation are independent of
platelet NOS. Washed platelets were pre-incubated with 200µM L-NAME prior
to the incubation with A. melanocarpa extracts (15µg/ml) and determination
of thrombin (20mU/ml) dependent platelet aggregation. Parallel experiments
were performed in platelets isolated from control individuals and from
subjects with cardiovascular risk factors. *-p<0.02 vs native; *-p<0.02
Oxidative stress plays an important role in the regulation of cellular function
in cardiovascular disease1
. This has been shown
in blood vessels and vascular cells in numerous studies (14). Much less attention
has been devoted to the characterization and understanding of the mechanisms
of oxidative stress in human platelets and their function.
In the present study, we were able to successfully measure basal (as opposed
to induced in vitro
by artificial agonists) superoxide production from
platelets. We show that it is significantly increased in patients with cardiovascular
risk profile when compared to controls, while platelet aggregation in response
to either collagen or thrombin is only borderline higher in this group of subjects.
Interestingly, no relationship was found between platelet aggregation ex
and platelet superoxide production in either of studied groups. No
correlation was found between endothelial function (measured by FMD) and platelet
aggregation ex vivo
either. Polyphenol rich extracts of A. melanocarpa
berries caused significant concentration dependent decrease in superoxide production
only in patients with cardiovascular risk factors, while no effect was observed
in the control group. A. melanocarpa
extracts abolished the difference
in superoxide production between risk factor patients and controls. A. melanocarpa
extracts exerted significant concentration dependent anti-aggregatory effects
in both studied groups, which indicated that this effects may be independent
of it’s ability to modulate superoxide production. These effects were similar
irrespective of aggregation inducing agent (collagen or thrombin). Moreover,
anti-aggregatory effects of A. melanocarpa
extracts appear to be independent
of platelet NO release as NOS inhibition by L-NAME did not lead to their abrogation.
Ability of platelets to produce superoxide anion has been demonstrated before, however most studies used stimuli which have been shown to stimulate oxidative burst in neutrophils e.g. PMA (6). Basal superoxide production in platelets was not studied to such an extent so far, mainly because studies used often healthy subjects, who (also in a present study) demonstrate very low levels of basal superoxide production. We show here that already at baseline conditions, platelets from cardiovascular risk patients produce ca. 10 times more superoxide than controls.
It is also noteworthy that we used low (25µM) concentration of lucigenin in order to diminish risk of lucigenin redox cycling which has been a problem with higher lucigenin concentrations (12). It is also important that we performed assays at 37°C, which greatly increases sensitivity of superoxide assays in living cells (12). The increase in baseline superoxide production described in the present paper may have several important functional consequences.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD), as well as NADPH oxidase inhibitors (DPI, apocynin), inhibit platelet recruitment to a preformed thrombus following collagen stimulation (4). ADP in supernatants of collagen-activated platelets was decreased in the presence of SOD, resulting in lower ADP concentrations available for recruitment of further platelets (4). Interestingly while a vast number of papers have looked at the effects of SOD on different aspects of platelet activation, no solid data is available on the effects SOD would have on agonist induced platelet aggregation. Krotz et al did not find evidence that platelet-derived superoxide would influence agonist induced platelet aggregation without pre-formed thrombus (4).
Superoxide release by both platelet and the endothelial cell is a key factor in regulating platelet-endothelial cell interaction, a primary event in platelet aggregation (15).
Finally, platelet NADPH oxidase dependent superoxide production is important in regulating platelet CD40 ligand expression, as patients with gp91phox deficiency showed greatly abolished CD40 ligand induction by several stimuli (16), which indicates potential importance of platelet NADPH oxidase and superoxide production in the clinical setting.
Conflicting results have been obtained when the effects of exogenously delivered ROS on in vitro
platelet aggregation were studied. In some studies xanthine-xanthine oxidase system caused decrease, rather than an increase of aggregation (17).
The relationship between platelet superoxide production and cardiovascular risk
factors found here is in agreement with previous studies that show that agonist
stimulated platelet superoxide production is higher in patients with cardiovascular
risk factors like hypertension (18) or diabetes (6). Similarly platelet superoxide
production is increased in other diseases usually associated with increased
vascular oxidative stress like nitrate tolerance18
Angiotensin II may play an important role in stimulating platelet superoxide
production through activation of NAD(P)H oxidase via the AT1 receptor and PKC.
The findings of the present study are in line with data previously published in regard to platelet oxidative stress and indicate that regulation of oxidative stress in platelets by risk factors may be similar to human vasculature in which superoxide production is directly related to number of risk factors (19).
The major sources of superoxide production in platelets were studied so far only in relation to agonist stimulated superoxide production, rather than basal, and show that apart from NADPH oxidases, dysfunctional platelet cNOS (NOS III) may be an important source of superoxide in hypertension or diabetes (6). We have not addressed this issue in the present study. We have, in turn, investigated the relationship between platelet superoxide production and platelet aggregation induced by collagen or thrombin. There was no significant relationship between those parameters in neither patients with cardiovascular risk, nor in subjects from the control group. None of the previous studies looked at this aspect of platelet oxidative stress.
Lack of such association, does not however indicate that platelet superoxide production is not important in regulating platelet aggregation. It is possible that presence of risk factors and endothelial dysfunction is not sufficient to significantly change aggregation but may be enough to increase superoxide production in platelets. Therefore, oxidative stress in platelets may precede the development of increased aggregation. This potential explanation is in line with our observation that while cardiovascular risk factors greatly increase platelet superoxide production, platelet aggregation in response to collagen or thrombin remained not significantly changed. It is possible that change of aggregation occurs at more exaggerated stages of cardiovascular diseases, and in those patients, such as unstable angina patients, the relationship between aggregation and platelet oxidative stress may become more evident. It is also important to point out that in vivo
the interactions and role and bioavailability of studied agonists like thrombin (20) or collagen may be different to conditions of our in vitro
Considering the importance of free radicals in modulating platelet function several studies investigated the effects of various anti-oxidants on human platelets. These mainly included polyphenol-rich natural compounds including grape seeds, pomegranate juice or red wine components, particularly resveratrol (9, 21, 22). Bioactive substances found in numerous foods (23,24), can be successfully and safely used to modify various cellular functions including oxidative stress. Particularly plant derived extracts create a good opportunity for development of novel treatment strategies (25, 26).
In the present study we have, for the first time, investigated the effects of
extracts from chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa
) on platelet superoxide
production and agonist induced aggregation in vitro
. Berries of A.
belong to the most abundant sources of polyphenols mainly anthocyanins
and are widely available in the form of either juice, berries themselves or
extracts particularly enriched in polyphenols and anthocyanins. One of the initial
studies that compared the content of phenolic compounds in different natural
products has shown that berries of aronia along with crowberry (11). The content
of total phenolics in the extracts determined spectrometrically according to
the Folin-Ciocalteu procedure and calculated as gallic acid equivalents (GAE)
indicated that GAE of aronia berries exceeded 20 mg/g, while majority of natural
well known sources of ployphenols showed values ca. 10-12 mg/g (11).
There are several studies indicating potential beneficial effects of A. melanocarpa
berry extracts. These include anti-cancer effects, mediated primarily by increase
of tumor suppressor genes as well as by reduction of oxidative stress and resulting
DNA damage important for the proliferation of cancer cells (27, 28, 29). Interestingly
berry extracts have been also implicated in the treatment
of several other conditions including oligospermia (30). Chokeberry extracts
show significant protective effects in the cardiovascular system, and initial
clinical studies have confirmed their usefulness (31). In their study Kowalczyk
et al have shown that anthocyanins from chokeberry decrease lipid peroxidation
which may be potentially used to combat oxidative stress in cardiovascular risk
subjects, which may make them potentially interesting drugs for adjuvant cardiovascular
therapy (31), and could be useful also in other conditions related to vascular
function changes (32). Our study extends those findings by showing important
anti-platelet effects of A. melanocarpa
berry extracts, particularly
in patients with significant cardiovascular risk factors. The mechanisms of
those effects remain however unclear. They may be partially mediated by anti-oxidant
effects of the extracts. The mechanism of actions of polyphenols on platelets
are mediated primarily through their free radical scavenging effects but they
have also been shown to inhibit NADPH oxidases and PKC which regulates them
(8). Finally polyphenols have been suggested to increase endogenous anti-oxidant
capacity through enhancement of SOD activity, which may be important in the
regulation not only of platelet aggregation, but maybe more importantly of vascular
superoxide production (33).
It is however important to note, that even in platelets from healthy control
subjects in which antioxidant effects of A. melanocarpa
minor, their anti-aggregatory capacity remains similar to observed in platelets
from subjects with cardiovascular risk factors (in whom antioxidant effects
are pronounced). The latter indicates some other additional potential mechanism
additionally involved in the inhibition of platelet aggregation by chokeberry
extracts. As nitric oxide exerts numerous protective aniti-aggregatory effects,
and that it can actually be produced within platelet, it is possible that polyphenol
rich extracts of A. melanocarpa
could inhibit platelet aggregation at
least in part by increasing platelet NOS activity. Indeed isolated polyphenols
have been shown to have an ability to stimulate NO production and NO donors
significantly inhibit aggregation (34). However, experiments presented here
do not confirm the hypothesis that anti-aggregatory effects of chokeberry extracts
are related to NOS activation within the platelet. Further studies are warranted
to determine exact mechanisms of anti-aggregatory effects of studied A. melanocarpa
In conclusion, we find that superoxide production is increased in platelets
obtained from patients with cardiovascular risk factors even in the absence
of major abnormalities of platelet aggregation in vitro
. Polyphenol rich
extracts of A. melanocarpa
berries show very significant anti-oxidant
and anti-aggregatory effects in human platelets, particularly in patients with
cardiovascular risk factors. Further clinical studies are warranted to confirm
present findings in an in vivo
situation in humans.
This work was supported by Polish Ministry of Education and Science (grant no.
2PO5A 01227). We are grateful to Mrs Jolanta Reyman for her excellent technical
help and expertise in platelet aggregation studies.
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