Red wine polyphenols (RWP) induce nitric oxide (NO) and endothelium-derived hyperpolarization (EDH)-mediated coronary vasodilatation involving the redox-sensitive PI3-kinase/Akt-dependent pathway in the endothelium. However, there is a gap of knowledge in explaining how bioactive polyphenols initialize their signalling pathway in endothelial cells. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that flavonoids act subsequently to their entry into the endothelium via the flavonoid membrane transporter bilitranslocase (TC 2.A.65.1.1). Thus, vascular reactivity studies were performed using isolated porcine coronary artery rings. We separately determined the NO- and EDH-mediated components of the relaxation in the presence of specific inhibitors. In either case, bilitranslocase antibodies significantly reduced the relaxations of coronary artery rings induced by RWP. Furthermore, bilitranslocase antibodies significantly reduced RWP-induced phosphorylation levels of Akt and eNOS, assessed in cultured endothelial cells from porcine coronary arteries by Western blot analysis. The present findings indicate that bilitranslocase-mediated membrane transport substantially contributes to the initial step of RWP-induced coronary vasodilatation.
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