Polyphenols are found in fruits and vegetables and, significantly, a diet rich in polyphenols may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The distribution of polyphenols in human body tissues was unknown before this study and the authors developed a new antibody technique to study polyphenols in living tissue. This makes it possible to study the activity of polyphenols.
Quercetin, a polyphenol, is found in large quantity in onions, while catechols are found in green tea. Diets rich in quercetin are associated with reduced risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. These chemicals are commonly found in foods and are both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Other sources of polyphenols include red wine and chocolate.
Oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the development of cancer, as well as cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. Antioxidants are believed to be protective against these diseases. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants and have been reported to provide stronger antioxidant activity than vitamin C. Polyphenols are theorized to prevent atherosclerosis by reducing oxidative stress.
Antibodies to quercetin and green tea catechins (both polyphenols) were developed in this research project. Using these antibodies, staining of slides can reveal tissues where the specific chemicals are active. Both quercetin and catechins are active on macrophage white blood cells, where atherosclerosis is developing. (Macrophages are inflammatory cells.) Specifically, the antibodies are active on “foam cells” in atherosclerosis and foam cells appear in large numbers in early atherosclerotic lesions.
CONCLUSION: The author found that macrophage-derived foam cells are the target of quercetin and catechins in developing atherosclerotic lesions.
NOTE: Quercetin and catechins are believed to be therapeutic in inflammatory diseases. Catechins are found to be especially high in Matcha Japanese green tea powder in which the entire leaf is consumed as tea and there is no tea bag to throw away. The green tea chemicals are not easily dissolved in water.
NOTE: Read about the antimetastatic effects of the polyphenols of Phyllanthus niruri.