British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Walnut extract (Juglans regia L.) and its component ellagic acid exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in human aorta endothelial cells and osteoblastic activity in the cell line KS483

Z. Papoutsia1, E. Kassia1, I. Chinoua2, M. Halabalakia2, L. A. Skaltsounisa2 and P. Moutsatsoua1 c1

a1 Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical School, University of Athens, 75 Mikras Asias Street, Goudi 11527, Athens, Greece

a2 Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmacy University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, GR 15771 Zografou, Athens, Greece


Epidemiological studies suggest that the incidence of CVD and postmenopausal osteoporosis is low in the Mediterranean area, where herbs and nuts, among others, play an important role in nutrition. In the present study, we sought a role of walnuts (Juglans regia L.) in endothelial and bone-cell function. As the endothelial cell expression of adhesion molecules has been recognised as an early step in inflammation and atherogenesis, we examined the effect of walnut methanolic extract and ellagic acid, one of its major polyphenolic components (as shown by HPLC analysis), on the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 and intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 in human aortic endothelial cells. After incubating the cells with TNF-α (1 ng/ml) in the absence and in the presence of walnut extract (10–200 μg/ml) or ellagic acid (10− 7–10− 5 m), the VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression was quantified by cell-ELISA. We further evaluated the effect of walnut extract (10–50 μg/ml), in comparison with ellagic acid (10− 9–10− 6m), on nodule formation in the osteoblastic cell line KS483.Walnut extract and ellagic acid decreased significantly the TNF-α-induced endothelial expression of both VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 (P < 0·01; P < 0·001). Both walnut extract (at 10–25 μg/ml) and ellagic acid (at 10− 9–10− 8 m) induced nodule formation in KS483 osteoblasts. The present results suggest that the walnut extract has a high anti-atherogenic potential and a remarkable osteoblastic activity, an effect mediated, at least in part, by its major component ellagic acid. Such findings implicate the beneficial effect of a walnut-enriched diet on cardioprotection and bone loss.

(Received February 14 2007)

(Revised August 02 2007)

(Accepted August 08 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr P. Moutsatsou, fax +30 210 7462682, email


Abbreviations: EGM, endothelial growth medium; FBS, fetal bovine serum; HAEC, human aorta endothelial cells; ICAM, intracellular cell adhesion molecule; MC, 4-methylcatechol; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; VCAM, vascular cell adhesion molecule