Crocetin, a carotenoid derived from saffron (Crocus sativus L.), improves acetylcholine-induced vascular relaxation in hypertension.
J Vasc Res. 2014 ;51(5):393-404. Epub 2014 Dec 20. PMID: 25531977
BACKGROUND: Hypertension is associated with endothelial dysfunction characterized by decreased vasorelaxation. Crocetin, a bioactive compound of saffron, exhibits favorable cardiovascular properties. We analyze the vasomodulatory effects of crocetin in hypertension.
METHODS: Myographical experiments were performed to compare the relaxation induced by acetylcholine (ACH) on aortic rings from normotensive (Wistar) and hypertensive (SHR) rats, incubated with or without crocetin or saffron extract and L-NAME or indomethacin. Extracts were also assayed in deendothelialized rings. UV-vis spectrophotometry and HPLC-DAD were used to characterize and quantify the saffron used.
RESULTS: Crocetin enhanced the ACH relaxations in aorta from hypertensive (strongly) and normotensive rats (weakly). Saffron extract did not modify this. Crocetin plus L-NAME abolished the relaxant response in SHR but not in Wistar aorta. Crocetin plus indomethacin did not modify the indomethacin response in either SHR or Wistar aorta. Crocetin in rubbed segments did not modify the ACH responses. In contrast, saffron increased this response in rubbed segments from SHR but not Wistar rats.
CONCLUSION: Crocetin exerts healthy vasomodulatory effects in hypertension, strongly improving endothelium-dependent ACH relaxations via endothelial nitric oxide but not the cyclooxygenase pathway. This work proposes that crocetin supplements are a possible complement in the therapy of hypertension.