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J Exp Med. 2004 Dec 20;200(12):1667-72.

Flavonoids influence monocytic GTPase activity and are protective in experimental allergic encephalitis.

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  • 1Dept. of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VUMC, FdG, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Abstract

In the chronic disabling disease multiple sclerosis (MS), migration of monocytes across the blood-brain barrier is a crucial step in the formation of new lesions in the central nervous system (CNS). Infiltrating monocyte-derived macrophages secrete inflammatory mediators such as oxygen radicals, which contribute to axonal demyelination and damage, resulting in neurological deficits. Flavonoids are compounds occurring naturally in food, which scavenge oxygen radicals and have antiinflammatory properties. To investigate whether they might suppress clinical symptoms in MS, we treated rats sensitized for acute and chronic experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, an experimental model of MS, with flavonoids. We demonstrated that the flavonoid luteolin substantially suppressed clinical symptoms and prevented relapse when administered either before or after disease onset. Luteolin treatment resulted in reduced inflammation and axonal damage in the CNS by preventing monocyte migration across the brain endothelium. Luteolin influenced migration by modulating the activity of Rho GTPases, signal transducers involved in transendothelial migration. Oral administration of luteolin also significantly reduced clinical symptoms.

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