Flavonoids exert a multiplicity of neuroprotective actions within the brain, including a potential to protect neurons against injury induced by neurotoxins, an ability to suppress neuroinflammation, and the potential to promote memory, learning and cognitive function. These effects appear to be underpinned by two common processes. Firstly, they interact with critical protein and lipid kinase signalling cascades in the brain leading to an inhibition of apoptosis triggered by neurotoxic species and to a promotion of neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity. Secondly, they induce beneficial effects on the vascular system leading to changes in cerebrovascular blood flow capable of causing angiogenesis, neurogenesis and changes in neuronal morphology. Through these mechanisms, the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods throughout life holds the potential to limit neurodegeneration and to prevent or reverse age-dependent loses in cognitive performance. The intense interest in the development of drugs capable of enhancing brain function means that flavonoids may represent important precursor molecules in the quest to develop of a new generation of brain enhancing drugs.
- Journal Article