Phenolic Compounds Known to Be Present in Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) Enhance Macrophage Polarization towards the Anti-Inflammatory M2 Phenotype

Riitta Ryyti, Mari Hämäläinen, Tiina Leppänen, Rainer Peltola, Eeva Moilanen

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    Macrophages are pleiotropic immune cells whose phenotype can polarize towards the pro-inflammatory M1 or anti-inflammatory M2 direction as a response to environmental changes. In obesity, the number of macrophages in adipose tissue is enhanced, and they shift towards the M1 phenotype. Activated M1 macrophages secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines and adipokines involved in the development of systemic low-grade inflammation, complicating obesity. Polyphenols are widely found in the vegetable kingdom and have anti-inflammatory properties. We and others have recently found that lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) supplementation is able to prevent the development of low-grade inflammation and its metabolic consequences in experimentally induced obesity. In the present study, we investigated the effects of twelve phenolic compounds known to be present in lingonberry (resveratrol, piceid, quercetin, kaempferol, proanthocyanidins, delphinidin, cyanidin, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid) on macrophage polarization, which is a meaningful mechanism determining the low-grade inflammation in obesity. Mouse J774 and human U937 macrophages and commercially available phenolic compounds were used in the studies. Three of the twelve compounds investigated showed an effect on macrophage polarization. Resveratrol, kaempferol, and proanthocyanidins enhanced anti-inflammatory M2-type activation, evidenced as increased expression of Arg-1 and MRC-1 in murine macrophages and CCL-17 and MRC-1 in human macrophages. Resveratrol and kaempferol also inhibited pro-inflammatory M1-type activation, shown as decreased expression of IL-6, NO, and MCP-1 in murine macrophages and TNF-α and IL-6 in human macrophages. In the further mechanistic studies, the effects of the three active compounds were investigated on two transcription factors important in M2 activation, namely on PPARγ and STAT6. Resveratrol and kaempferol were found to enhance PPARγ expression, while proanthocyanidins increased the phosphorylation of STAT6. The results suggest proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, and kaempferol as active constituents that may be responsible for the positive anti-inflammatory effects of lingonberry supplementation in obesity models. These data also extend the previous knowledge on the anti-inflammatory effects of lingonberry and encourage further studies to support the use of lingonberry and lingonberry-based products as a part of a healthy diet.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3045
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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