There is increasing evidence to suggest that neuroinflammatory processes contribute to the cascade of events that lead to the progressive neuronal damage observed in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease. Therefore, treatment regimes aimed at modulating neuroinflammatory processes may act to slow the progression of these debilitating brain disorders. Recently, a group of dietary polyphenols known as flavonoids have been shown to exert neuroprotective effects in vivo and in neuronal cell models. In this review we discuss the evidence relating to the modulation of neuroinflammation by flavonoids. We highlight the evidence which suggests their mechanism of action involves: 1) attenuation of the release of cytokines, such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α); 2) an inhibitory action against inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) induction and subsequent nitric oxide (NO.) production; 3) inhibition of the activation of NADPH oxidase and subsequent reactive oxygen species generation; 4) a capacity to down-regulate the activity of pro-inflammatory transcription factors such as nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB); and 5) the potential to modulate signalling pathways such as mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. We also consider the potential of these dietary compounds to represent novel therapeutic agents by considering their metabolism in the body and their ability to access the brain via the blood brain barrier. Finally, we discuss future areas of study which are necessary before dietary flavonoids can be established as therapeutic agents against neuroinflammation.
Keywords: Neuroinflammation, microglia, astrocyte, nitric oxide, flavonoid, cytokine, neurodegeneration
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