Abstract 4101: Casual Chocolate Consumption and Platelet Function
Background: Consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa has been associated with a 50% reduction of cardiovascular death in the Zutphen Study. Because flavonoid compounds inhibit platelet aggregation, we examined the effect of casual chocolate consumption on platelet activation ex vivo and in vivo in healthy individuals with a family history of premature coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods: Platelet function was assessed in 1535 persons (mean age 44.7 ± 13 years; 44% male, 62% white, 25% current smokers) who were not taking any platelet inhibiting agents. Agonist-induced (collagen-epinephrine) platelet activation in the presence of shear was assessed ex vivo using the platelet function analyzer test (PFA). Closure time (CT) in seconds represents time to occlusion of the PFA system by a platelet plug. In vivo platelet activation was assessed by urinary excretion of 11-dehydro-thromboxane B2 (uTxM) determined by ELISA. Recent consumption of all foods was determined using a 24 hour diet recall.
Results: Casual chocolate consumption occurred in 9% (N=139). Mean PFA CT was significantly longer for those who consumed any chocolate but remained within the normal range, while uTxM was notably lower for those who consumed chocolate, representing inhibition of platelet activation both ex vivo and in vivo. Multivariable linear regression analysis adjusted for nonindependence within families, demonstrated that chocolate consumption remained a predictor of PFA CT and of uTxM independent of age, sex, race, education, current smoking, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, fibrinogen, and Von Willebrand Factor.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that in a very large population at increased risk for CHD, recent casual consumption of even small amounts of chocolate significantly inhibits platelet activation. Chocolate’s antiplatelet effect is one putative mechanism for the observed cardiovascular protective benefits of dietary chocolate consumption.