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Flavonoids: modulators of brain function?

  • Jeremy P. E. Spencer (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114508965776
  • Published online: 01 May 2008
Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests that dietary phytochemicals, in particular flavonoids, may exert beneficial effects on the central nervous system by protecting neurons against stress-induced injury, by suppressing neuroinflammation and by improving cognitive function. It is likely that flavonoids exert such effects, through selective actions on different components of a number of protein kinase and lipid kinase signalling cascades, such as the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt, protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. This review explores the potential inhibitory or stimulatory actions of flavonoids within these pathways, and describes how such interactions are likely to underlie neurological effects through their ability to affect the activation state of target molecules and/or by modulating gene expression. Future research directions are outlined in relation to the precise site(s) of action of flavonoids within signalling pathways and the sequence of events that allow them to regulate neuronal function.

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*Corresponding author: Dr J. P. E. Spencer, fax +44 118 931 0080, email j.p.e.spencer@reading.ac.uk
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