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Quercetin supplementation and its effect on human monocyte gene expression profiles in vivo

  • Inka Boomgaarden (a1), Sarah Egert (a2), Gerald Rimbach (a3), Siegfried Wolffram (a4), Manfred J. Müller (a2) and Frank Döring (a1)...


Quercetin has been described as having a wide range of beneficial effects in humans, ranging from anti-carcinogenic properties to reducing the risk of CVD. Nevertheless, underlying molecular mechanisms have been mostly investigated in vitro. Here, we tested whether a daily supplementation of quercetin leads to reproducible changes in human monocyte gene expression profiles. In study I, quercetin in varying dosages was given to healthy subjects for 2 weeks. RNA from monocytes isolated at the beginning and end of the study from subjects receiving 150 mg quercetin per d was subjected to transcriptome-wide microarray analysis. In study II, a double-blind cross-over study, twenty subjects exhibiting a ‘cardiovascular risk phenotype’ received 150 mg quercetin or placebo daily for 6 weeks each and served as the verification group. Microarray analysis revealed a number of differentially expressed genes. The most significantly represented functional groups were those of the immune system, nucleic acid metabolism, apoptosis and O-glycan biosynthesis. Twenty-four genes were chosen for technical replication and independent verification by quantitative real-time PCR. When comparing placebo and quercetin treatment, four genes showed significantly different expression changes (C1GALT1, O-glycan biosynthesis; GM2A, glycolipid catabolism; HDGF, cell proliferation; SERPINB9, apoptosis). However, these were minimal in respect to magnitude of fold change. In conclusion, although microarray analysis revealed extensive effects of quercetin on gene expression, the employment of a placebo-controlled study design showed no comparable results for twenty-four verification targets. This emphasises the need for stringent designs in nutritional intervention studies with the aim to identify relevant changes in gene expression.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Professor Dr Frank Döring, fax +49 431 8805658, email


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