Aims: It has been previously reported that dietary polyphenolic compounds have a positive effect in cardiovascular diseases, although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In this study, the effects of Aronox, an anthocyanin-rich extract from Aronia melanocarpa E, on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) apoptosis was investigated. Methods: Apoptosis was measured in HUVEC pretreated with Aronox and than treated with 7β-hydroxycholesterol (20 μg/ml). For the evaluation of apoptosis we used the cell binding of annexin V, the propidium iodide uptake method and the TUNEL assay. We also measured the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the cells, using fluorescent probe 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein acetate. Moreover, alteration of the mitochondrial membrane potential with subsequent cytochrome c release, activation of caspase-3, and the level of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 were investigated. Results: Aronox significantly decreased 7β-hydroxycholesterol-induced apoptosis and ROS generation, and ameliorated the collapse of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential with subsequent inhibition of cytochrome c release. Furthermore, down-regulation of Bcl-2 and up-regulation of caspase-3 activation were reversed by Aronox. Conclusion: The protective action of the extract against apoptosis in endothelial cells may contribute to the potential benefits drawn from consumption of plant polyphenols.

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