Traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains one of the leading causes of death and disability in young adults worldwide. Despite growing evidence and advances in our knowledge regarding the multifaceted pathophysiology of TBI, the underlying mechanisms, though, are still to be fully elucidated. Whereas initial brain insult involves acute and irreversible primary damage to the brain, the processes of subsequent secondary brain injury progress gradually over months to years, providing a window of opportunity for therapeutic interventions. To date, extensive research has been focused on the identification of druggable targets involved in these processes. Despite several decades of successful pre-clinical studies and very promising results, when transferred to clinics, these drugs showed, at best, modest beneficial effects, but more often, an absence of effects or even very harsh side effects in TBI patients. This reality has highlighted the need for novel approaches that will be able to respond to the complexity of the TBI and tackle TBI pathological processes on multiple levels. Recent evidence strongly indicates that nutritional interventions may provide a unique opportunity to enhance the repair processes after TBI. Dietary (poly)phenols, a big class of compounds abundantly found in fruits and vegetables, have emerged in the past few years as promising agents to be used in TBI settings due to their proven pleiotropic effects. Here, we give an overview of the pathophysiology of TBI and the underlying molecular mechanisms, followed by a state-of-the-art summary of the studies that have evaluated the efficacy of (poly)phenols administration to decrease TBI-associated damage in various animal TBI models and in a limited number of clinical trials. The current limitations on our knowledge concerning (poly)phenol effects in TBI in the pre-clinical studies are also discussed.
- oxidative stress
- secondary brain injury