Rutin May Prevent Number One Killer of Americans
The number one killer of Americans is a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the heart or to the brain. New research has uncovered a non-drug approach to preventing the formation of these blood clots, and that strategy involves a natural substance called rutin.
The dangers of blood clots
Thrombosis, the formation of blood clots, is a cause not only of heart attacks and strokes, but of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism as well. In the case of deep venous thrombosis, the clot, which typically forms in the legs, can break off and move through the bloodstream and get stuck in the heart, lungs, brain, or other areas. When the clot travels to the lung, it can cause pulmonary embolism.
All of these blood clot related conditions are life-threatening, and so the need for safe, effective preventive and treatment approaches are of great interest. To answer that challenge, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) used a mouse model and identified a new strategy derived from plants for preventing thrombosis.
What is rutin?
Rutin is an antioxidant and plant pigment (flavonoid) that has a long history of medicinal use. The rutin used for healing purposes usually comes from buckwheat (reportedly the richest source), Eucalyptus macrorhyncha, and the Japanese pagoda tree, although rutin can also be found in apples (the peels), onions, citrus fruits, black tea, and noni. During the digestive process, most rutin is metabolized to quercetin, which is also a flavonoid, plant pigment, and antioxidant.
In the BIDMC study, investigators focused their attention on protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), a substance previously shown to be quickly secreted from platelets and endothelial cells during thrombosis. Previous research had also shown that inhibiting PDI could stop thrombosis in mice.
What scientists needed was to find a specific compound that could block PDI from forming blood clots. The challenge was the fact there are two types of PDI: intracellular PDI is necessary for making proteins, while extracellular PDI causes thrombosis. Therefore the investigators had to block only the extracellular PDI.
From a field of more than 5,000 compounds, the scientists identified rutin (also known as quercetin-3-rutinoside) as the most potent substance for the job. After further extensive investigation and testing, the researchers found that “Rutin proved to be the most potently anti-thrombotic compound that we ever tested in this model,” explained Robert Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
So what does this finding mean? Flaumenhaft noted that since they know PDI is the target of anti-clot therapy and “because the FDA has already established that rutin is safe, we are poised to expeditiously test this idea in a clinical trial, without the time and expense required to establish the safety of a new drug.”
In other words, rutin may help prevent the formation of blood clots, the number one killer of Americans, and scientists are working on developing it into a form we can use.
Jasuja R et al. Protein disulfide isomerase inhibitors constitute a new class of antithrombotic agents. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2012; DOI:10.1172/JCI61228