The experimental evidences accumulated during last years point out a relevant role of oxidative stress in neurodegeneration. As anti-cellular oxidative stress agents flavonoids can act either as direct chemical antioxidants, the classic view of flavonoids as antioxidants, or as modulators of enzymes and metabolic and signaling pathways leading to an overshot of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, a more recently emerging concept. Flavonoids, a large family of natural antioxidants, undergo a significant hepatic metabolism leading to flavonoid-derived metabolites that are also bioactive as antioxidant agents. The development of more efficient flavonoid's based anti-oxidative stress therapies should also take into account their bioavailability in the brain using alternate administration protocols, and also that the major ROS triggering the cellular oxidative stress are not the same for all neurodegenerative insults and diseases. On these grounds, we have reviewed the reports on neuroprotection by different classes of flavonoids on cellular cultures and model animals. In addition, as they are now becoming valuable pharmacological drugs, due to their low toxicity, the reported adverse effects of flavonoids in model experimental animals and humans are briefly discussed.
Keywords: Flavonoids, oxidative stress, brain, reactive oxygen species, molecular targets of flavonoids, neuroprotection, ischemiareperfusion, neurodegenerative diseases, therapeutic potential of flavonoids, anti-cellular