Flavonoids and the CNS
Flavonoids are present in almost all terrestrial plants, where they provide UV-protection and colour. Flavonoids have a fused ring system consisting of an aromatic ring and a benzopyran ring with a phenyl substituent. The flavonoids can be divided into several classes depending on their structure. Flavonoids are present in food and medicinal plants and are thus consumed by humans. They are found in plants as glycosides. Before oral absorption, flavonoids undergo deglycosylation either by lactase phloridzin hydrolase or cytosolic β-glucocidase. The absorbed aglycone is then conjugated by methylation, sulphatation or glucuronidation. Both the aglycones and the conjugates can pass the blood-brain barrier. In the CNS several flavones bind to the benzodiazepine site on the GABAA-receptor resulting in sedation, anxiolytic or anti-convulsive effects. Flavonoids of several classes are inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A or B, thereby working as anti-depressants or to improve the conditions of Parkinson’s patients. Flavanols, flavanones and anthocyanidins have protective effects preventing inflammatory processes leading to nerve injury. Flavonoids seem capable of influencing health and mood.