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Genes Nutr. 2007 Dec;2(3):257-73. doi: 10.1007/s12263-007-0056-z. Epub 2007 Oct 16.

The interactions of flavonoids within neuronal signalling pathways.

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Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, RG2 6AP, UK,


Emerging evidence suggests that dietary phytochemicals, in particular flavonoids, may exert beneficial effects in the central nervous system by protecting neurons against stress-induced injury, by suppressing neuroinflammation and by promoting neurocognitive performance, through changes in synaptic plasticity. It is likely that flavonoids exert such effects in neurons, through selective actions on different components within a number of protein kinase and lipid kinase signalling cascades, such as phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt, protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein kinase. This review details the potential inhibitory or stimulatory actions of flavonoids within these pathways, and describes how such interactions are likely to affect cellular function through changes in the activation state of target molecules and/or by modulating gene expression. Although, precise sites of action are presently unknown, their abilities to: (1) bind to ATP binding sites on enzymes and receptors; (2) modulate the activity of kinases directly; (3) affect the function of important phosphatases; (4) preserve neuronal Ca(2+) homeostasis; and (5) modulate signalling cascades lying downstream of kinases, are explored. Future research directions are outlined in relation to their precise site(s) of action within the signalling pathways and the sequence of events that allow them to regulate neuronal function in the central nervous system.

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