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Polyphenols and inflammation: basic interactions

Biesalski, Hans K

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: November 2007 - Volume 10 - Issue 6 - p 724–728
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3282f0cef2
Micronutrients: Edited by Hans Biesalski and Henry Lukaski

Purpose of review For more than 20 years polyphenols, food-derived bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables, are claimed to help prevent cancer, degenerative diseases and chronic and acute inflammation. Modern methods in cell and molecular biology allow us to understand the interactions of different polyphenols with basic mechanisms of inflammatory response. This review summarizes recent papers dealing with the effect of polyphenols on modulators of the inflammatory cascade.

Recent findings The majority of papers deal with the effects of different antioxidants on the redox sensitive transcription factor nuclear factor κB, inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and cyclooxygenase inhibition. Understanding the regulatory steps and the multiple potential actions of polyphenols within the inflammatory cascade may help to define special polyphenols to be used for prevention and intervention in clinical conditions of inflammation. The relation between formation of advanced glycation end products as a consequence of high glucose and the activation of defence mechanisms through polyphenols opens new fields in the prevention and treatment of oxidative stress and hyperglycemia.

Summary Polyphenols are promising compounds that may help to control oxidative stress and consequently inflammatory response. To date, however, clinical studies are missing and should be carried out with specific polyphenols.

Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, University Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

Correspondence to Hans K. Biesalski, MD, PhD, Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, University Hohenheim, Garbenstrasse 30, 70 593 Stuttgart, Germany Tel: +49 711 459 24112; fax: +49 711 459 23822; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.