ENEA - Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile

10/26/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/26/2023 05:42

Health: ENEA demonstrates efficacy of bergamot in reducing cholesterol

Health: ENEA demonstrates efficacy of bergamot in reducing cholesterol

26 October 2023 Last Updated: 26 October 2023

ENEA, in collaboration with the Italian nutraceutical company Esserre Pharma which funded the research, found that some molecules in bergamot impart a lowering effect on LDL cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood. The outcome of the study, conducted first in the laboratory (in vitro) and then on a sample of 50 people (in vivo), were published in the international journal "Phytotherapy Research".

"In the laboratory human liver cells were subjected to treatments differing in duration (4 and 24 hours) and amount of natural extract administered. A decrease in the intracellular content of cholesterol and triglycerides was found and, above all, the inhibition of the expression of genes related to lipid synthesis, i.e. fat", explained Barbara Benassi, head of the ENEA Health and Environment Laboratory and co-author of the research together with Maria Pierdomenico of ENEA and Costanza Riccioni of Esserre Pharma.

Following laboratory activities the team started a clinical study, in collaboration with Prof. Arrigo Cicero of the University of Bologna, which involved 50 healthy subjects aged between 18 and 70 with a moderately high blood cholesterol level (between 115 and 190 mg/Dl). Under medical supervision, the sample was subjected to a treatment based on bergamot extract which gave very promising results: the analyses showed an increase in '"good'" HDL cholesterol (+5%), a significant reduction in '"bad'" LDL (about -8%) and triglycerides (about -13%) and a hypoglycemic action (about -3.4% of fasting blood sugar).

"These results open the way, for example, to the use of bergamot extract on those patients who experience medications side effects and who choose a nutraceutical approach to treat dyslipidemia, a disorder that alters the levels of fats in the blood increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other complications," explained the ENEA researcher.

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a Mediterranean citrus fruit typical of Calabria harvested from November to February; it contains multiple bioactive components like flavonoids which represent a wide variety of powerful antioxidants abundant in the whole fruit. The extract used for this study is obtained by subjecting various parts of the fruit to a process of separation of the essential oil, intended for cosmetic and food industries.

"After pomegranate, we have carried out accurate research work with the ENEA Health and the Environment Laboratory to evaluate the biological activity of Mediterranean bergamot extracts," said Costanza Riccioni, Head of Research and Development at Esserre Pharma. This fruit, underestimated for a long time, it's actually a treasure chest of flavonoids, valid allies of cardio-metabolic well-being", concluded Riccioni.

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Barbara Benassi, ENEA - Head Health and the Environment Laboratory, ////