Beltrán-Debón R1, Rodríguez-Gallego E, Fernández-Arroyo S, Senan-Campos O, Massucci FA, Hernández-Aguilera A, Sales-Pardo M, Guimerà R, Camps J,Menendez JA, Joven J.

Unitat de Recerca Biomèdica, Hospital Universitari Sant Joan, Institut d’Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Campus of International excellence Southern Catalonia, Carrer Sant Llorenç 21, 43201-Reus, Spain.


We explored the acute multifunctional effects of polyphenols from Hibiscus sabdariffa in humans to assess possible consequences on the host’s health. The expected dynamic response was studied using a combination of transcriptomics and metabolomics to integrate specific functional pathways through network-based methods and to generate hypotheses established by acute metabolic effects and/or modifications in the expression of relevant genes. Data were obtained from healthy male volunteers after 3 hours of ingestion of an aqueous Hibiscus sabdariffa extract. The data were compared with data obtained prior to the ingestion, and the overall findings suggest that these particular polyphenols had a simultaneous role in mitochondrial function, energy homeostasis and protection of the cardiovascular system. These findings suggest beneficial actions in inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and oxidation, which are interrelated mechanisms. Among other effects, the activation of the heme oxygenase-biliverdin reductase axis, the systemic inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system, the inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme, and several actions mirroring those of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonists further support this notion. We also found concordant findings in the serum of the participants, which include a decrease in cortisol levels and a significant increase in the active vasodilator metabolite of bradykinin (des-Arg(9)-bradykinin). Therefore, our data support the view that polyphenols from Hibiscus sabdariffa play a regulatory role in metabolic health and in the maintenance of blood pressure, thus implying a multi-faceted impact in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.