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J Pharm Pharmacol. 1999 May;51(5):519-26.

Flavonoids and the central nervous system: from forgotten factors to potent anxiolytic compounds.

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Instituto de Quimica y Fisicoquimica Biologicas, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquimica, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The list of activities of plant flavonoids did not include effects on the central nervous system (CNS) up to 1990, when our laboratory described the existence of natural anxiolytic flavonoids. The first of these was chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone), followed by apigenin (5,7,4'-trihydroxyflavone) and flavone itself. Semisynthetic derivatives of flavone obtained by introducing halogens, nitro groups or both in its molecule, give rise to high affinity ligands for the benzodiazepine receptor, active in-vivo; 6,3'-dinitroflavone, for example, is an anxiolytic drug 30 times more potent than diazepam. The data collected in this paper make clear that some natural flavonoids are CNS-active molecules and that the chemical modification of the flavone nucleus dramatically increases their anxiolytic potency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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