Polyphenols are a diverse group of micronutrients from plant origin that may serve as antioxidants and that contribute to human health in general. More specifically, many research groups have investigated their protective effect against cardiovascular diseases in several animal studies and human trials. Yet, because of the excessive processing of the polyphenol structure by human cells and the residing intestinal microbial community, which results in a large variability between the test subjects, the exact mechanisms of their protective effects are still under investigation. To this end, simplified cell culture systems have been used to decrease the inter-individual variability in mechanistic studies. In this review, we will discuss the different cell culture models that have been used so far for polyphenol research in the context of cardiovascular diseases. We will also review the current trends in cell culture research, including co-culture methodologies. Finally, we will discuss the potential of these advanced models to screen for cardiovascular effects of the large pool of bioactive polyphenols present in foods and their metabolites.
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