Oleuropein in olives and its pharmacological effects

Oleuropein is one of the main ingredients in the Olive Leaf Extract that is used in many applications and is good for health. Mediterrane lifestyle and diet have always been associated with a healthy elder generation. The average lifespan in these countries has been estimated to be 83-84 years which puts them in the top percentage in the world despite having world-renowned wine and fatty food consumption.

Either cooked or as a garnish, most of the foods cooked in the Medditerian region are based on olive oil. Having non-polar properties, fats in olive oil are able to absorb many biologically active compounds like oleic acid, polyphenolic compounds, and squalene.

Oleuropein is one of the main phenolic compounds in olive oil. This compound has gathered quite the interest of the medicinal community. Oleuropein has been associated high variety of biological activities like:

The anti-oxidative potential of oleuropein

Scientists highly agree, that most of the biological effect attributed to oleuropein is due to its anti-oxidative potential.

Due to its structure, oleuropein is considered to be highly capable of scavenging reactive radicals like reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. This positive effect has been established by synthetic and also by in vivo and in vivo tests as well by effectively inhibiting DPPH in laboratory tests as well as showing high affinity towards superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite, and nitric oxide in cell systems.

Also, oleuropein has been identified as able to complex heavy metals, which could facilitate some radical reactions.

All of this has led to the studies as an anti-oxidant. Oleuropein has shown the potential to protect our cell DNA from radical damage that eventually could lead to cancer formation.

Oleuropein has also shown that it can enhance our natural antioxidative enzymes like superoxide dismutase.

In human tests of test subjects using extra virgin olive oil, oleuropein increased total antioxidant activity.

Anti-cancer activity

Several studies have demonstrated that oleuropein has anti-cancer activity, it can impact cancer in several pathways. In vitro and in vivo studies have identified oleuropein can inhibit cell growth, motility, and invasiveness as well as induce apoptosis and inhibit cell proliferation.

Oleuropein has been studied and shown positive effects on several cancer cell types:

  • breast
  • colon
  • nervous cancer
  • urinary bladder carcinoma
  • melanoma
  • and many more

Anti-inflammation activity

Inflammation is our body’s natural response to any kind of damage or infection – it is the rush of cytokines and various mediators. But sometimes the effects of them could cause our bodies harm.

Oleuropein has shown the ability to interact with various sets of enzymes responsible for inflammation like NF-kβ, cyclooxygenase-2, and others.

Also, in the place of inflammations, a lot of nitric oxides are released for the dilatation of blood vessels. But this on the other hand could lead to unwanted reactions, and here anti-oxidative action of oleuropein comes in hand.

Cardioprotective effect

Oleuropein can also protect our blood and vessel system. In mice where doxorubicin cardiotoxicity was induced, injection of oleuropein was able to reduce levels of stress molecules released by their bodies and promoted amino-acid and other regenerating molecule releases to help reduce the effects caused by cardiac arrest.

Oleuropein is also interacting with calcium channels reducing systolic and diastolic pressure.

Anti-diabetic and weight regulating effect

Oleuropein is also known for its ability to help patients with diabetes. Oleuropein exhibited a hypoglycaemic effect – it increases insulin sensitivity and allows better glucose uptake in muscles.

It can also regulate lipid levels in our blood system. Rats that were fed a fat-rich diet showed better lipid levels, hence leading to healthier weight regulation. The same weight regulation is achieved by also promoting increased metabolic activity – increased oxygen consumption and thermogenesis.

In conclusion

Olive oil and especially oleuropein can bring a lot of positive effects on our bodies. From high anti-oxidative effects to anti-cancer activity to weight regulation. We can say, by all the positive effects, olive oil is essential to sustain the Mediterranean lifestyle.