Pycnogenol appears to improve endothelial function in individuals with borderline hypertension, hyperglycemia or hyperlipidemia, according to the results of an Italian study reported recently in the Journal of International Angiology.
Pycnogenol is a standardized natural plant abstract derived from French maritime pine tree bark.
Dr. Gianni Belcaro and colleagues at Chieti-Pescara University evaluated the effects of short-course Pycnogenol supplementation on altered endothelial function in borderline hypertensive, hyperlipidemic and hyperglycemic subjects who did not have atherosclerotic changes in their main arteries or documented coronary artery disease.
The investigators say their results imply “an important preventive possibility” for Pycnogenol in individuals with these borderline pre-clinical conditions.
At present, there is no established treatment for endothelial dysfunction.
The study enrolled 49 individuals with borderline hypertension, hyperlipidemia or hyperglycemia ranging from 40 to 60 years of age who were prescribed Pycnogenol, at a dose of 150 mg/d, in combination with recommendations that were considered at the time to be the best management and care available for their condition per international guidelines.
The recommendations included daily exercise coupled with a reduction in carbohydrates, caffeinated drinks and salt.
Forty-three individuals who were instructed to follow the best available management without Pycnogenol supplementation served as controls.
Endothelial function was measured using flow-mediated dilation and laser Doppler for the assessment of the distal finger flux.
Pycnogenol significantly improved endothelial function and decreased oxidative stress
The study found that supplementation with the natural abstract significantly improved endothelial function by 55% at eight weeks and 66% at 12 weeks.
In addition, oxidative stress was decreased by 20%.
Blood pressure was normalized in subjects with borderline hypertension, cholesterol levels were reduced in participants with borderline hyperlipidemia, and fasting glucose levels were decreased in the cohort with borderline hyperglycemia.
“The findings bolster earlier data showing that Pycnogenol can improve overall endothelial function, which is an important step in preventing the progression of pre-clinical atherosclerosis,” said principal investigator Dr. Belcaro. “Individuals especially likely to benefit from an improvement in endothelial function include those with borderline hypertension, hyperglycemia or hyperlipidemia.”
Earlier research showed that Pycnogenol supplementation improved endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease.
Finally, the Italian researcher ascribed the observed improvement in endothelial function to the supplement’s ability to activate the enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase to more efficiently generate nitric oxide from the precursor amino acid L-arginine.