Neuroprotective Actions of Flavones and Flavonols: Mechanisms and Relationship to Flavonoid Structural Features
Abin-Carriquiry Juan Andres,
Epidemiological studies have shown positive preventive action of flavonoids on cardiovascular and
neurodegenerative events. Among the six groups in which flavonoids are classified, the flavones and flavonols, based on
the backbone of 2-phenylchromen-4-one (2-phenyl-1-benzopyran-4-one) are the most commonly encountered within the
families and genera of the higher plants. Numerous studies support a neuroprotective activity of flavones such as luteolin
and flavonols such as kaempherol and quercetin in experimental focal ischemia and models of neurodegeneration.
Antioxidation, modulation of signaling cascades and gene expression as well as anti-inflammation appear as the main
protective mechanisms and mitochondria are a likely main target mediating the preventive actions against oxidative stress.
Flavones and flavonols re-establish the redox regulation of proteins, transcription factors and signaling cascades that are
otherwise inhibited by elevated oxidative stress. The final survival or death of the neuron depends on flavone and flavonol
concentrations, time of exposure and, mainly, metabolic and oxidative neuronal circumstances. Neuroprotection appears
to be linked to specific structural motifs, beyond those involved in antioxidation. By themselves or as templates for
synthetic compounds, flavone and flavonol molecules show potential as multi-targeted therapeutic tools for protecting the
brain. Nonetheless, more research needs to be done on the correlation of potential beneficial effects of flavones and
flavonols and their mechanisms of action.
Keywords: Flavones, flavonols, neuroprotection, oxidative stress, quercetin, signalling
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