Modulation of Neuroinflammation by Dietary Flavonoids
Spencer, Jeremy P E
There is increasing evidence to suggest neuroinflammatory processes contribute to the cascade of events that lead to the progressive neuronal damage observed in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson‘s disease and Alzheimer‘s disease. The molecular mechanisms underlying such neurodegenerative processes are rather complex and involve modulation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-κB pathways leading to the generation of nitric oxide (NO). Such a small molecule may diffuse to the neighbouring neurons and trigger neuronal death through the inhibition of mitochondrial respiration and increases in the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Recently, attention has focused on the neuroprotective effects of flavonoids which have been effective in protecting against both age-related cognitive and motor decline in vivo. Although, the precise mechanisms by which flavonoids may exert their neuroprotective effects remain unclear, accumulating evidence suggest that they may exert their neuroprotective effects through the modulation of the MAP Kinase and PI3 Kinase signaling pathways. The aim of the present chapter is to highlight the potential neuroprotective role of dietary flavonoids in terms of their ability to modulate neuroinflammation in the central nervous system. We will provide an outline of the role glial cells play in neuroinflammation and describe the involvement of inflammatory mediators, produced by glia, in the cascade of events leading to neuronal degeneration. We will then present the evidence that flavonoids may modulate neuroinflammation by inhibiting the production of these inflammatory agents and summarise their potential mechanisms of action.