BACKGROUND: In a recent intervention study, the daily supplementation with 200 mg monomeric and oligomeric flavanols (MOF) from grape seeds for 8 weeks revealed a vascular health benefit in male smokers. The objective of the present study was to determine the impact of MOF consumption on the gene expression profile of leukocytes and to assess changes in DNA methylation. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Gene expression profiles were determined using whole genome microarrays (Agilent) and DNA methylation was assessed using HumanMethylation450 BeadChips (Illumina). MOF significantly modulated the expression of 864 genes. The majority of the affected genes are involved in chemotaxis, cell adhesion, cell infiltration or cytoskeleton organisation, suggesting lower immune cell adhesion to endothelial cells. This was corroborated by in vitro experiments showing that MOF exposure of monocytes attenuates their adhesion to TNF-alpha-stimulated endothelial cells. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) reporter gene assays confirmed that MOF decrease the activity of NF-kappaB. Strong inter-individual variability in the leukocytes' DNA methylation was observed. As a consequence, on group level, changes due to MOF supplementation could not be found. CONCLUSION: Our study revealed that an 8 week daily supplementation with 200 mg MOF modulates the expression of genes associated with cardiovascular disease pathways without major changes of their DNA methylation state. However, strong inter-individual variation in leukocyte DNA methylation may obscure the subtle epigenetic response to dietary flavanols. Despite the lack of significant changes in DNA methylation, the modulation of gene expression appears to contribute to the observed vascular health effect of MOF in humans.
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- BLOOD MONONUCLEAR-CELLS, FACTOR-KAPPA-B, LEUKOCYTE ADHESION, EPIGENETIC MECHANISMS, EXPRESSION PROFILES, ENDOTHELIAL-CELLS, SMOKING, DISEASE, POLYPHENOLS, PATTERNS