Pterostilbene may protect against asthma: Cell study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Pterostilbene may protect against asthma: Cell study
Pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries, may counteract the role of environmental pollutants and prevent the development of asthma, a study suggests for the first time.

A study with human cells that line the airways indicated that a certain compound called benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) could enhance the development of asthma, but exposure to pterostilbene negated such effects.

Findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​ are reportedly the first to show an interaction between BaP and the linings of the airways, as well as the first to “provide evidence that pterostilbene has great potential for preventing benzo(a)pyrene-associated asthma”​.

BaP belongs to a family of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are well established pollutants, identified in cigarette smoke and industrial waste. The compounds are also formed during the cooking of certain foods. Such compounds have been linked to increases in the risk of cancer.

Pterostilbene vs resveratrol

The new study, performed by researchers from Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, also indicated that pterostilbene was more effective than resveratrol in suppressing the inflammatory response in the airway linings.

This is not the first time that pterostilbene has been compared to resveratrol, and previous comparisons also showed a greater efficacy for pterostilbene.

Pterostilbene is chemically related to resveratrol, and reportedly holds promise for improving cardiovascular health, glucose levels, and cognitive function.

Comparing pterostilbene to resveratrol, the former is claimed to be metabolized at a slower rate in the body giving it more opportunity to be absorbed into the blood stream.

Much research on the properties and potential of pterostilbene has been conducted by a group of scientists at the University of Mississippi and the ARS – a scientific research arm of the US Department of Agriculture.

New data

For the new study, the Taiwanese scientists exposed cells from the lining of the airways (the bronchial epithelium) to BaP with or without pterostilbene or resveratrol (both from Sigma Aldrich).

Results showed that BaP was associated with an induction in the production of inflammatory compounds called cytokines, and these subsequently produced a remodeling in bronchial smooth muscle, said the researchers.

Exposure to resveratrol went some way to reversing the inflammatory response and remodeling, but pterostilbene completely reversed the remodeling of the airways, said the researchers.

“Resveratrol has a low bioavailability to cells, so structural modifications of the resveratrol are needed to increase its bioavailability while preserving its beneficial activities,”​ explained the researchers.

“Structurally, pterostilbene has a better metabolic stability than resveratrol because it has only one hydroxyl group, while resveratrol has three​.

“Further study may be needed to define the pharmacokinetic data of pterostilbene in human beings and to define its in vivo effect,”​ they added.


Jeremy Bartos, PhD, ingredients product manager for pTeroPure – a branded pterostilbene ingredient by Chromadex – told that the new study adds to others that have demonstrated that pterostilbene is able to down regulate inflammatory cytokines in general and interleukins in particular, like a study published in Carcinogenesis​ last year (Vol. 31, pp. 1272).

“This study further confirms that pterostilbene’s bioavailability confers a large advantage over resveratrol for use in the prevention and treatment of certain health issues.

“I would expect to see more of these types of studies as researchers are re-doing old resveratrol experiments with pterostilbene and also branching out in to new areas of interest while they follow the results of previous experiments,”​ added Dr Bartos.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1021/jf201747g
“Pterostilbene suppresses benzo(a)pyrene-induced airway remodelling”
Authors: P-L. Kuo, Y-L. Hsu, M-J. Tsai, M-S. Huang

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