Background: Balance in neurotransmission is essential for the proper functioning of the
nervous system and even a small, but prolonged disturbance, can induce the negative feedback
mechanisms leading to various neuropathologies. Neurodegenerative and mood disorders such as
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or affective disorders are increasing medical and social problems. Among
the wide spectrum of potentially destructive events, oxidative stress and disrupted metabolism of
some neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, GABA, glutamate, serotonin or dopamine appear to
play a decisive role. Biologically active plant polyphenols have been shown to exert a positive impact
on the function of the central nervous system by modulation of metabolism and the action of
Methods: Based on published research, the pharmacological activities of some naturally occurring
polyphenols have been reviewed, with a focus on their potential therapeutic importance in the regulation
of neurotransmitter systems.
Results: Phytochemicals can be classified into several groups and most of them possess anticancer,
antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. They can also modulate the metabolism
or action of some neurotransmitters and/or their receptors. Based on these properties, phytochemicals
have been used in traditional medicine for ages, although it was focused mainly on
treating symptoms. However, growing evidence indicates that polyphenols may also prevent or
slow neurological diseases.
Conclusion: Phytochemicals seem to be less toxic than synthetic drugs and they can be a safer alternative
for currently used preparations, which exert adverse side effects. The neuroprotective actions
of some plant polyphenols in the regulation of neurotransmitters metabolism, functioning of
neurotransmitters receptors and antioxidative defense have potential therapeutic applications in
various neurodegenerative disorders.