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Neurotox Res. 2016 Oct;30(3):345-66. doi: 10.1007/s12640-015-9590-4. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

Are Polyphenols Strong Dietary Agents Against Neurotoxicity and Neurodegeneration?

Author information

1
Department of Microscopy, Laboratory of Cell Biology and Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine (UMIB), Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
2
CICS-UBI, Health Sciences Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 6200-506, Covilhã, Portugal.
3
Centre for Reproductive Genetics Prof. Alberto Barros, Porto, Portugal.
4
I3S - Institute of Health Research and Innovation, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
5
CICS-UBI, Health Sciences Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 6200-506, Covilhã, Portugal. bmcms@ubi.pt.

Abstract

Life expectancy of most human populations has greatly increased as a result of factors including better hygiene, medical practice, and nutrition. Unfortunately, as humans age, they become more prone to suffer from neurodegenerative diseases and neurotoxicity. Polyphenols can be cheaply and easily obtained as part of a healthy diet. They present a wide range of biological activities, many of which have relevance for human health. Compelling evidence has shown that dietary phytochemicals, particularly polyphenols, have properties that may suppress neuroinflammation and prevent toxic and degenerative effects in the brain. The mechanisms by which polyphenols exert their action are not fully understood, but it is clear that they have a direct effect through their antioxidant activities. They have also been shown to modulate intracellular signaling cascades, including the PI3K-Akt, MAPK, Nrf2, and MEK pathways. Polyphenols also interact with a range of neurotransmitters, illustrating that these compounds can promote their health benefits in the brain through a direct, indirect, or complex action. We discuss whether polyphenols obtained from diet or food supplements are an effective strategy to prevent or treat neurodegeneration. We also discuss the safety, mechanisms of action, and the current and future relevance of polyphenols in clinical treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. As populations age, it is important to discuss the dietary strategies to avoid or counteract the effects of incurable neurodegenerative disorders, which already represent an enormous financial and emotional burden for health care systems, patients, and their families.

KEYWORDS:

Antioxidants; Brain; Catechins; Neurodegeneration; Neurotoxicity; Polyphenols; Signaling pathways

PMID:
26745969
DOI:
10.1007/s12640-015-9590-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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