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Current Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 0929-8673
ISSN (Online): 1875-533X

Review Article

The Mechanisms Behind the Biological Activity of Flavonoids

(E-pub Ahead of Print)
Author(s): Ana M. Gonzalez-Paramas, Begona Ayuda-Duran, Sofia Martinez, Susana Gonzalez-Manzano and Celestino Santos-Buelga*

Flavonoids are phenolic compounds widely distributed in the human diet. Their intake has been associated with a decreased risk of different diseases such as cancer, immune dysfunction or coronary heart disease. However, the knowledge about the mechanisms behind their in vivo activity is limited and still under discussion. For years, their bioactivity was associated with the direct antioxidant and radical scavenging properties of phenolic compounds, but nowadays this assumption is unlikely to explain their putative health effects, or at least to be the only explanation for them. New hypotheses about possible mechanisms have been postulated, including the influence of the interaction of polyphenols and gut microbiota and also the possibility that flavonoids or their metabolites could modify gene expression or act as potential modulators of intracellular signaling cascades. This paper reviews all these topics, from the classical view as antioxidant in the context of the Oxidative Stress theory to the most recent tendencies related with the modulation of redox signaling pathways, modification of gene expression or interactions with the intestinal microbiota. The use of C. elegans as a model organism for the study of the molecular mechanisms involved in biological activity of flavonoids is also discussed.

Keywords: flavonoids; health implications; bioavailability; metabolites; gut microbiota; antioxidant; gene expression; C. elegans.

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