Nones J, Stipursky J, Costa SL, Gomes FC. (2010) Neurochem Res. Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print]
Flavonoids are naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds that are present in a variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, tea, and wine, and are the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet. Evidence suggests that these phytochemicals might have an impact on brain pathology and aging; however, neither their mechanisms of action nor their cell targets are completely known.
In the mature mammalian brain, astroglia constitute nearly half of the total cells, providing structural, metabolic, and trophic support for neurons. During the past few years, increasing knowledge of these cells has indicated that astrocytes are pivotal characters in neurodegenerative diseases and brain injury.
Most of the physiological benefits of flavonoids are generally thought to be due to their antioxidant and free-radical scavenging effects; however, emerging evidence has supported the hypothesis that their mechanism of action might go beyond these properties. In this review, we focus on astrocytes as targets for flavonoids and their implications in brain development, neuroprotection, and glial tumor formation.
Finally, we will briefly discuss the emerging view of astrocytes as essential characters in neurodegenerative diseases, and how a better understanding of the action of flavonoids might open new avenues to develop therapeutic approaches to these pathologies.