Cardioprotection and natural polyphenols: an update of clinical and experimental studies
Myocardial ischemia is the leading cause of death worldwide. Despite better outcomes with early coronary artery reperfusion strategies, morbidity and mortality remain significant. The principal myocardial hallmark of myocardial ischemia is cell death and the associated impairment of cardiac contractility. In this way, the use of extracts from medicinal plants versus synthetic drugs to mitigate post-ischemic damage constitutes an alternative. Despite their proven beneficial effects in cardiovascular disorders, the use of many plants is questioned. Our aim is to update the clinical and experimental studies about the actions of medicinal plants and polyphenol-enriched extracts against ischemia–reperfusion injury and the involved mechanisms. A review of the recent scientific literature (last ten years) on cardioprotective medicinal plants was developed using the following bibliographic databases: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. Herein, the clinical and experimental studies on medicinal plants and their phenolic compounds have been reviewed. The second part of this review was centered on the search for medicinal plant extracts and natural products isolated from them as potential cardioprotective agents. The botanical names of the cited plants have been authenticated by searching the Plant List and Royal Botanical Garden, Kew databases. The data collected show that treatment with natural products diminishes post-ischemic damage through an improvement of the mitochondrial functionality mainly mediated by enhanced nitric oxide bioavailability. Despite these results, further studies must be carried out to validate their use to prevent or mitigate ischemia–reperfusion injury in the clinical setting.