Low Molecular Weight (poly)Phenol Metabolites Across the Blood-Brain Barrier: The Underexplored Journey

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The world of (poly)phenols arising from dietary sources has been significantly amplified with the discovery of low molecular weight (LMW) (poly)phenol metabolites resulting from phase I and phase II metabolism and microbiota transformations. These metabolites, which are known to reach human circulation have been studied to further explore their interesting properties, especially regarding neuroprotection. Nevertheless, once in circulation, their distribution to target tissues, such as the brain, relies on their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), one of the most controlled barriers present in humans. This represents a key step of an underexplored journey towards the brain. Present review highlights the main findings related to the ability of LMW (poly)phenol metabolites to reach the brain, considering different studies: in silico, in vitro, and in vivo. The mechanisms associated with the transport of these LMW (poly)phenol metabolites across the BBB and possible transporters will be discussed. Overall, the transport of these LMW (poly)phenol metabolites is crucial to elucidate which compounds may exert direct neuroprotective effects, so it is imperative to continue dissecting their potential to cross the BBB and the mechanisms behind their permeation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-214
Number of pages22
JournalBrain plasticity (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2021


  • Polyphenols
  • metabolites
  • BBB
  • microbiota
  • brain
  • permeability


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