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Biological Chemistry

Benefits Of Proanthocyanidins

February 13, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 7

An interesting sidebar to Stu Borman’s Science Concentrate on anti-UTI mannosides (C&EN, Dec. 5, 2011, page 36) is the similar effect of the proanthocyanidins (PACs) that give the North American cranberry its red color. As long ago as the 1950s, some physicians began to recommend cranberry juice for its prophylactic effect in patients with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). More recently, laboratory studies not only have confirmed the physicians’ anecdotal evidence but have also uncovered PACs as the active agents (Phytochemistry,DOI: 10.1016/S0031-9422(99)00573-7).

In addition, related work has shown that PACs, like the mannosides described in Borman’s article, fight UTIs by blocking the pili that Escherichia coli use to adhere to the cells lining our urinary tracts. Consequently, PACs don’t kill the bacteria, they evict them and, as with the mannoses, this minimizes the development of resistant strains.

By Dale Vitale
Union, N.J.

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