Pomegranate extract (POMx) decreases the atherogenicity of serum and of human monocyte-derived macrophages (HMDM) in simvastatin-treated hypercholesterolemic patients: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized, prospective pilot study.
Atherosclerosis. 2014 Jan ;232(1):204-10. Epub 2013 Nov 19. PMID: 24401239
OBJECTIVE: To analyze pomegranate extract (POMx) effects on serum and on human HMDM atherogenicity in simvastatin - treated hypercholesterolemic patients.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either simvastatin (20 mg/day) + vegan placebo pill (n = 11), or simvastatin (20 mg/day) + POMx pill (1g/day, n = 12). Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline and after 1 and 2 months of therapy. HMDM were collected from 3 patients in each group at baseline and after 2 months of therapy, as well as from 3 healthy subjects. After 2 months of therapy, serum LDL-cholesterol levels significantly decreased, by 23%, in the simvastatin + placebo group, and by 26% in the simvastatin + POMx group. Simvastatin + POMx therapy increased serum thiols concentration by 6%. Patients' HMDM reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were significantly increased, by 69%, vs. healthy subjects HMDM. After 2 months of therapy, HMDM ROS levels decreased by 18% in the simvastatin + placebo group, whereas in the simvastatin + POMx group it decreased by up to 30%. A novel finding was the triglycerides levels in the patients' HMDM at baseline which were significantly higher, by 71%, vs. healthy subjects HMDM. The simvastatin + POMx, but not the simvastatin + placebo therapy, significantly reduced macrophage triglycerides content by 48%, vs. baseline levels. In addition, whereas the simvastatin + placebo therapy significantly decreased the patients' HMDM cholesterol biosynthesis rate by 33%, the simvastatin + POMx therapy further decreased it, by 44%.
CONCLUSION: The addition of POMx to simvastatin therapy in hypercholesterolemic patients improved oxidative stress and lipid status in the patient's serum and in their HMDM. These anti-atherogenic effects could reduce the risk for atherosclerosis development.