On the Street: A Whey Peptide for Vascular Function

March 26/Monroe, Wis./Prepared Foods -– A new peptide has been shown to improve measures of vascular health, according to a recently published human clinical study.

A research team led by Dr. Jeff Volek of The Human Performance Laboratory at The University of Connecticut, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of NOP-47, short for Nitric Oxide Peptide-47, on vascular function in 20 healthy men and women.  The study is published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal.

NOP-47 was discovered by Glanbia Nutritionals as part of its search for naturally derived whey peptide fragments that promote health and sports performance. A form of the NOP-47 was previously shown to increase nitric oxide production in specialized cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels. Nitric oxide released from endothelial cells results in immediate dilation of blood vessels.  Reduced nitric oxide levels contribute to impaired vascular function, inflammation, and thrombosis.

A concentrated form of NOP-47 was tested by Volek’s laboratory group. To assess vascular function in response to ingestion of NOP-47, the researchers used ultrasound to measure brachial artery dilation in the arm and plethysmography to assess capillary blood flow in the forearm.  Increased dilation during the ultrasound test is an index of greater nitric oxide availability and improved vascular function.  Ingestion of NOP-47 resulted in a 28% increase in artery dilation measured by ultrasound and also significantly increased peak forearm blood flow.   Blood chemistries also indicated that NOP-47 increased nitric oxide levels compared to the placebo.

“This is the first time a natural peptide has been shown to positively impact vascular function using these techniques,” stated Volek. “Glanbia’s whey peptide could be of significant value in maintaining nitric oxide levels and vascular function. Generally, impaired vascular function is found in individuals with obesity, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol levels, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, heart failure, aging, and other chronic ailments. Maintaining a healthy endothelium is critical for overall health and maximizing sports performance. Future experiments on the impact of this peptide on individuals with an impaired vascular endothelium would be particularly relevant to address the potential of the peptide for prophylactic or therapeutic applications.”

Study co-author Dr. Richard Seip of Hartford Hospital commented, “With such significant results in younger, healthy individuals, I would suggest that there is a likelihood that older individuals would also benefit from the effects of this peptide in terms of maintaining vascular health.”

From the March 29, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition