From Field to Health:  A Simple Way To Increase the Nutraceutical Content of Grape As Shown by NO-Dependent Vascular Relaxation

Polyphenolic grapevine components involved in plant resistance against pathogens possess various pharmacological properties that include nitric oxide (NO)-dependent vasodilation and anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging activities, which may explain the protective effect of moderate red wine consumption against cardiovascular disease. The aim of this work was (a) to verify the possibility that preharvest treatments of grapevine with a plant activator, benzo-(1,2,3)-thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid <i>S</i>-methyl ester (BTH), could lead to an enriched nutraceutical potential of wine and (b) to characterize the profile of metabolites responsible for pharmacological activity. Plant spraying at the end of veraison, with a water suspension of BTH (0.3 mM), led to increased whole anthocyanin content as confirmed by HPLC comparative analysis. Extracts from berry skins of BTH-treated grapevines caused NO-dependent vasorelaxation, with a concentration−response curve that was significantly shifted to the left of the control non-BTH-treated curve. Moreover, 1:1000 dilutions of berry extracts from BTH-treated plants significantly increased basal production of guanosine 3‘,5‘-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) in human vascular endothelial cells when compared to the corresponding extracts of untreated plants. These results show that BTH treatment increases anthocyanin content of grape extracts, as well as their ability to induce NO-mediated vasoprotection. No increase of anthocyanin content was observed in the wine extracts from BTH-treated vines. It is concluded that BTH treatment could be exploited to increase the nutraceutical potential of grapes. Keywords: Nitric oxide; vasodilation; plant activator; polyphenols; grape pharmaconutrients