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J Nat Prod. 2000 Jul;63(7):1035-42.

Flavonoids as antioxidants.

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  • 1Institute of Advanced Biomedical Technologies, National Council of Research Via F.lli Cervi 93, 20090 Segrate (MI), Italy. pietta@itba.mi.cnr.it

Abstract

Flavonoids are phenolic substances isolated from a wide range of vascular plants, with over 8000 individual compounds known. They act in plants as antioxidants, antimicrobials, photoreceptors, visual attractors, feeding repellants, and for light screening. Many studies have suggested that flavonoids exhibit biological activities, including antiallergenic, antiviral, antiinflammatory, and vasodilating actions. However, most interest has been devoted to the antioxidant activity of flavonoids, which is due to their ability to reduce free radical formation and to scavenge free radicals. The capacity of flavonoids to act as antioxidants in vitro has been the subject of several studies in the past years, and important structure-activity relationships of the antioxidant activity have been established. The antioxidant efficacy of flavonoids in vivo is less documented, presumably because of the limited knowledge on their uptake in humans. Most ingested flavonoids are extensively degraded to various phenolic acids, some of which still possess a radical-scavenging ability. Both the absorbed flavonoids and their metabolites may display an in vivo antioxidant activity, which is evidenced experimentally by the increase of the plasma antioxidant status, the sparing effect on vitamin E of erythrocyte membranes and low-density lipoproteins, and the preservation of erythrocyte membrane polyunsaturated fatty acids. This review presents the current knowledge on structural aspects and in vitro antioxidant capacity of most common flavonoids as well as in vivo antioxidant activity and effects on endogenous antioxidants.

PMID:
10924197
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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