Hydroxytyrosol is key anti-inflammatory compound in olive: DSM study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Inflammation

Hydroxytyrosol is key anti-inflammatory compound in olive: DSM study
Hydroxytyrosol, an ingredient to watch, has been identified as the main anti-inflammatory compound in olives, says a new study from DSM Nutritional Products Ltd.

According to findings published in Planta Med​, hydroxytyrosol was found to inhibit both nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), both are pro-inflammatory compounds.

The results appear to explain the potential cardiovascular benefits observed in other studies, suggest the authors, or a role in arthritis and joint health.

The data provide a molecular basis for elucidating the effects of hydroxytyrosol on inflammatory processes,”​ wrote researchers, led by Dr Joseph Schwager.

“The effects of hydroxytyrosol on NO and chemokine production point to their impact on chronic inflammatory processes in endothelium or arthritis.”

Olive compounds

Hydroxytyrosol is thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives, and believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Previous research has linked the compound to cardiovascular benefits, with reductions in LDL or 'bad' cholesterol. Data has also suggested the compound may boost eye health and reduce the risk of against macular degeneration.

Several companies already offer the compound for nutraceutical applications. Carlos Pena from Spain’s Genosa notes that his company’s Hytolive ingredient is obtained via internationally patented technology without the use of solvents or any additives and is standardized with purified hydroxytyrosol.

The new study supports such an approach by identifying hydroxytyrosol as the main anti-inflammatory compound in olives.

Study details

The researchers investigated the effects of hydroxytyrosol and aqueous olive extracts on a range of inflammatory mediators, including cytokines and chemokines.

Results showed that hydroxytyrosol inhibited the production of both NO and PGE2 in mouse cells, “reflecting strong anti-inflammatory activity”​.

Both the olive extract and the isolated compound were associated with a reduction in the secretion of a range of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, added the researchers.

“The relevance of these results needs to be compared with plasma levels of olive compounds that are achievable by food consumption. A dietary intake of 40mL of olive oil results in a peak concentration of about 17 micromoles of hydroxytyrosol in plasma 1 hour postprandial.

“This value is well within the IC50 of hydroxytyrosol for inhibiting the NO and PGE2 production observed in vitro in this study; at these concentrations, gene expression is also significantly modulated.

“Therefore, hydroxytyrosol is supposed to exert similar effects in vivo at least transiently,”​ they concluded.


DSM continues to extensively research the olive compound and holds a number of patents on the compound, including:

European Patent EP2009/063492: Hydroxytyrosol combinations for enhancing mitochondrial function and energy production

WO/2008/128704: Use of hydroxytyrosol as anti-aging agent

WO/2009/144093 Hydroxytyrosol benefits mitochondria

WO/2009/074644 Compositions comprising hydroxytyrosol and chondroitin and use thereof for the treatment, co-treatment or prevention of inflammatory disorders

WO/2008/128629 Novel use of hydroxytyrosol

Source: Planta Med
Published online, DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1280022
“Hydroxytyrosol Is the Major Anti-Inflammatory Compound in Aqueous Olive Extracts and Impairs Cytokine and Chemokine Production in Macrophages”
Authors: N. Richard, S. Arnold, U. Hoeller, C. Kilpert, K. Wertz, J. Schwager

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