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Research News: Colorful Fruits May Fend Off Stroke and Heart Attack

An apple a day may not only keep the doctor away, but may help prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots, according to new research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The preclinical study, published in May 2012 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), showed that a flavonoid called rutin - commonly found in fruits and vegetables and sold over the counter as a dietary supplement - can help prevent thrombosis in an animal model.

Blood clots can lead to stroke and heart attack, as well as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. Each year as many as one-third of all deaths in the United States are attributed to heart attack or stroke.

In the new study, scientist Robert Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD, an investigator in BIDMC's Division of Hemostasis and Thrombosis, was looking for a compound that could block the action of an enzyme called protein disulfide isomerase (PDI). PDI is rapidly secreted by cells during thrombosis - when a clot forms in a blood vessel or artery

Team Screens 5,000 Compounds

Robert Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD

Flaumenhaft and his colleagues used a scientific method called high-throughput screening to study more than 5,000 different compounds, and rutin emerged as the most potent anti-thrombotic agent.

Rutin is a bioflavonoid that is naturally found in many fruits, vegetables and teas, including apples, onions and citrus fruits. It is also sold as an herbal supplement. Flavonoids are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color; they have also been shown to have protective antioxidant properties.

In the second part of the study, Dr. Flaumenhaft and his scientific team tested rutin's abilities to prevent blood clot formation in mice. Because they knew that humans would use rutin in pill form, they specifically included studies in which the rutin compound was given by mouth. Their results showed that the bioflavonoid successfully retained its anti-clotting properties when it was metabolized following oral ingestion.

Next Step: More Research

"Rutin proved to be the most potently anti-thrombotic compound that we ever tested in this model," says Dr. Flaumenhaft. Importantly, he adds, the flavonoid was shown to be effective in preventing blood clots that develop in both arteries and in blood vessels.

The results of this pre-clinical research have established that blocking PDI can help prevent thrombosis, or blood clot formation. The next step, says Flaumenhaft, will be to conduct clinical trials in human subjects.

Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted August 2012