Research validates anti-inflammatory properties of wine using urinary tartaric acid as biomarker

In a recent study published in The Journal of nutrition, health and aging, a group of researchers investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of wine by analyzing the relationship between urinary tartaric acid concentrations and changes in serum inflammatory biomarkers in PREvención con Dieta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) trial participants.

Study: Moderate wine consumption measured using the biomarker urinary tartaric acid concentration decreases inflammatory mediators related to atherosclerosis. Image Credit: CandyRetriever/


Inflammation is crucial for health, acting protectively in acute scenarios and detrimentally when chronic, leading to diseases like arthritis and diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet), rich in plant-based foods, healthy fats, and moderate wine intake, effectively reduces inflammatory markers in those at high cardiovascular risk.

This diet’s polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids help combat inflammation linked to chronic diseases. Despite ongoing debates, many studies confirm red wine’s anti-inflammatory benefits attributed to polyphenols.

Urinary tartaric acid offers a more objective measure of wine consumption than food frequency questionnaires. Further research is essential to understand wine’s impact on inflammation and validate this biomarker across different groups.

About the study 

The present cohort analysis was conducted using baseline and one-year data from the PREDIMED study, a large, parallel-group, multicenter, randomized, controlled trial.

It was conducted in Spain from October 2003 to December 2010. It assessed the impact of the MedDiet enriched with olive oil or nuts on cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence, involving 7,447 participants at high cardiovascular risk.

This analysis specifically included a subsample of 217 participants from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Navarra recruitment centers, examining their inflammatory biomarkers and urinary tartaric acid levels.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona approved the study protocol, and all participants provided written informed consent.

Dietary intake was assessed with a validated food frequency questionnaire, and physical activity was measured using a Spanish version of the Minnesota physical activity questionnaire.

Inflammatory biomarkers were analyzed using eXtensible MicroArray Profiling (xMAP) technology, and tartaric acid concentration was measured in urine samples using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC–ESI–MS/MS).

The statistical analysis included dividing participants into tertiles based on the one-year changes in urinary tartaric acid concentration, and multivariable-adjusted linear regression models were used to explore associations between changes in tartaric acid and inflammatory biomarkers. 

Study results

The present study analyzed the baseline characteristics of participants from the PREDIMED trial, focusing on their demographic and health profiles as related to changes in urinary tartaric acid concentrations over one year.

The average age of the participants was 68.8 years, with a slight majority being female (52.1%). The participants were similarly distributed across the three tertiles regarding sex, age, and physical activity levels.

Most participants were classified as overweight, and a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors was observed: 54.8% had diabetes, 63.6% had dyslipidemia, and 78.8% had hypertension. The majority were non-smokers (85.7%) and had a low educational level (75.1%), with these characteristics evenly distributed among the tertiles.

Adherence to the MedDiet was generally consistent across groups, though slightly lower in the first tertile, and wine consumption was notably lower in the second tertile.

The study also reviewed changes in dietary intake over the year, finding that food and nutrient consumption remained well-balanced across the tertiles.

The relationship between wine consumption and urinary tartaric acid excretion was analyzed, adjusting for various potential confounders such as age, sex, smoking habits, educational level, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, intervention group, analysis time, energy intake, and consumption of grapes and raisins.

The results indicated a clear correlation: higher wine consumption led to increased tartaric acid excretion, with an adjusted increase of 0.39 μg/mg creatinine per standard deviation, highly significant at p < 0.001.

The reliability of urinary tartaric acid as a biomarker for wine consumption was supported by a Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, demonstrating good predictive ability with an Area Under the Curve (AUC) of 0.818.

Furthermore, the impact of urinary tartaric acid on inflammatory markers was assessed. Higher increases in tartaric acid were associated with significant reductions in soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) concentrations, adjusting for potential confounders (−0.20 ng/mL per standard deviation increase, p = 0.031).

However, no significant associations were observed when changes in tartaric acid were considered continuously.

The study found an inverse relationship between increases in tartaric acid and changes in plasma sVCAM-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) when analyzed by tertiles.

Participants in the second and third tertiles showed significantly lower concentrations of sICAM-1 compared to the first tertile, and similar patterns were observed for sVCAM-1, especially in the third tertile. 


In conclusion, the study successfully establishes urinary tartaric acid as a credible biomarker for wine consumption, providing clear evidence that moderate wine intake, particularly red wine rich in polyphenols, is associated with significant reductions in key inflammatory markers.

These findings not only reinforce the potential health benefits of moderate wine consumption in reducing cardiovascular risk but also highlight the importance of including such bioactive compounds in the diet for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Further research may explore the long-term health impacts of sustained wine consumption and its role in chronic disease prevention, thereby enriching our understanding of dietary influences on health outcomes.

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