Polyphenols beyond barriers: A glimpse into the brain

Inês Figueira, Regina Menezes, Diana Macedo, Inês Costa, Cláudia Nunes dos Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Ageing can be simply defined as the process of becoming older, which is genetically determined but also environmentally modulated. With the continuous increase of life expectancy, quality of life during ageing has become one of the biggest challenges of developed countries. The quest for a healthy ageing has led to the extensive study of plant polyphenols with the aim to prevent age-associated deterioration and diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases. The world of polyphenols has fascinated researchers over the past decades, and in vitro, cell-based, animal and human studies have attempted to unravel the mechanisms behind dietary polyphenols neuroprotection. Methods: In this review, we compiled some of the extensive and ever-growing research in the field, highlighting some of the most recent trends in the area. Results: The main findings regarding polypolyphenols neuroprotective potential performed using in vitro, cellular and animal studies, as well as human trials are covered in this review. Concepts like bioavailability, polyphenols biotransformation, transport of dietary polyphenols across barriers, including the blood-brain barrier, are here explored. Conclusion: The diversity and holistic properties of polypolyphenol present them as an attractive alternative for the treatment of multifactorial diseases, where a multitude of cellular pathways are disrupted. The underlying mechanisms of polypolyphenols for nutrition or therapeutic applications must be further consolidated, however there is strong evidence of their beneficial impact on brain function during ageing. Nevertheless, only the tip of the iceberg of nutritional and pharmacological potential of dietary polyphenols is hitherto understood and further research needs to be done to fill the gaps in pursuing a healthy ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-594
Number of pages33
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Bioavailability
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Healthy ageing
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Neuroprotection
  • Polyphenols


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