Polyphenols are members of a very large family of plant-derived compounds that may have beneficial
effects on human health, and thus their study has become an increasingly important area of human nutrition
research. Considering that it is increasingly accepted that chronic sub-acute inflammation plays an important
role in the development of insulin resistance and of diabetes in animals and in humans, the aim of the present review
is to compile information concerning the anti-inflammatory effects of non-flavonoid polyphenols on diabetes prevention
and/or treatment. Most of these studies have been carried out with different cultured cells and using animal models
displaying different types of diabetes, such as diabetes induced by streptozotocin or streptozotocin-nicotinamide, genetic
diabetes or diabetes induced by high-fat feeding. In general terms, non-flavonoid polyphenols reduce the production
of inflammatory mediators, such as IL-1β, IL-8, MCP-1, COX-2 or iNOS in these animal models of diabetes. This effect
is accompanied in the vast majority of these studies by improved insulin action. In addition, some of the non-flavonoid
polyphenols are also able to ameliorate or prevent several pathological alterations associated with the development of diabetes,
such as nephropathy, cardiopathy or retinopathy. Very little information has been reported with regard to human
studies to date. Thus, new studies are needed to confirm if the beneficial effects observed in preclinical studies can apply
to human beings.
Keywords: Animal models, cultured cells, diabetes, human intervention studies, inflammation, non-flavonoids, polyphenols.
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