Vaccinium macrocarpon: an interesting option for women with recurrent urinary tract infections and other health benefits
AIM: To review the scientific publications concerning the clinical use and mechanism of action of the North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) for women with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) and other health conditions. METHODS: This is a retrospective study of published information concerning Vaccinium macrocarpon retrieved from a PubMed and individual searches. RESULTS: Urinary tract infections are very common in women, cause discomfort, and may aggravate other genitourinary conditions. The available scientific information supports a clinical benefit of Vaccinium macrocarpon in the prevention of recurrent UTI in women. There is a non-significant reduction of UTI associated with Vaccinium macrocarpon treatment during pregnancy. A group of proanthocyanidins (PAC) with A-type linkages have been isolated from Vaccinium macrocarpon which inhibit P-fimbriae synthesis and induce a bacterial deformation, on both antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant uropathogenic Escherichia coli. It is plausible that cranberry PAC prevent bacteria from adhering to the uroepithelium of the bladder, thereby blocking the ability of E. coli to infect the urinary mucosa. CONCLUSION: Cranberry treatment is a safe, well-tolerated supplement that does not have significant drug interactions. Although investigations are in the early stages, experimental and preclinical studies suggest that cranberry components may have other potential benefits, including anti-infective, anticancer and antioxidant effects, which may be considered as positive for different age-related conditions. In addition, cranberry components may induce positive cardiovascular and metabolic changes, and may improve neuropsychological activity. These effects warrant further clinical research to better place the role of cranberry products for women.