Neuroinflammation : modulation by flavonoids and mechanisms of action
Spencer, Jeremy P. E.
Williams, Robert J.
Neuroinflammatory processes are known to contribute to the cascade of events culminating in the neuronal damage that underpins neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Recently, there has been much interest in the potential neuroprotective effects of flavonoids, a group of plant secondary metabolites known to have diverse biological activity in vivo. With respect to the brain, flavonoids, such as those found in cocoa, tea, berries and citrus, have been shown to be highly effective in preventing age-related cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in both animals and humans. Evidence suggests that flavonoids may express such ability through a multitude of physiological functions, including an ability to modulate the brains immune system. This review will highlight the evidence for their potential to inhibit neuroinflammation through an attenuation of microglial activation and associated cytokine release, iNOS expression, nitric oxide production and NADPH oxidase activity. We will also detail the current evidence indicting that their regulation of these immune events appear to be mediated by their actions on intracellular signaling pathways, including the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) cascade and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. As such, flavonoids represent important precursor molecules in the quest to develop of a new generation of drugs capable of counteracting neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative disease.