Flavonoids – Small Molecules, High Hopes

Open access


This brief review takes a look at flavonoids, a wide class of polyphenols, which are regarded as plant secondary metabolites. Their roles in plants are diverse and little understood. They can act as growth hormone modulators, phytoalexins, they offer UV protection, contribute to pollen viability and can function as signaling molecules in establishing symbiotic relationships. Flavonoids were also found to have a range of beneficial effects for the human body. Their anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective activity, as well as their antibacterial, antiviral and antihelmintic properties make them promising candidates for the design of new drugs.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Williams C. A.; Grayer R. Anthocyanins and other flavonoids. J. Nat. Prod. Rep. 2004 21 539-573.

  • 2. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14504/14504-h/14504-h.htm

  • 3. Wendy A. P.; Angus S. M. Flavonoids and auxin transport: modulators or regulators?. Trends Plant Sci. 2007 12 556-563.

  • 4. Treutter D. Significance of Flavonoids in Plant Resistance and Enhancement of Their Biosynthesis. Plant Biology. 2005 7 581-591.

  • 5. Taylor L. P.; Grotewold E. Flavonoids as developmental regulators. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2005 8 317-323.

  • 6. Liu C. W.; Murray J. D. The Role of Flavonoids in Nodulation Host- Range Specificity: An Update. Plants. 2016 5 33.

  • 7. Luo M.; Wan S.; Sun X.; Ma T.; Huang W. Interactions between auxin and quercetin during grape berry development. Sci. Hortic- Amsterdam. 2016 205 45-51.

  • 8. Yin R.; Han K.; Heller W.; Albert A.; Dobrev P. I.; Zazimalova E.; Schaffner A. R. Kaempferol 3-O-rhamnoside-7-O-rhamnoside is an endogenous flavonol inhibitor of polar auxin transport in Arabidopsis shoots. New Phytol. 2014 201 466-475.

  • 9. Peer W. A.; Bandyopadhyay A.; Blakeslee J. J.; Makam S. N.; Chen R. J.; Masson P. H.; Murphy A. S. Variation in expression and protein localization of the PIN family of auxin efflux facilitator proteins in flavonoid mutants with altered auxin transport in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell. 2004 16 1898-1911.

  • 10. Hasegawa M.; Mitsuhara I.; Seo S.; Okada K.; Yamane H.; Iwai T.; Ohashi Y. Analysis on Blast Fungus-Responsive Characters of a Flavonoid Phytoalexin Sakuranetin; Accumulation in Infected Rice Leaves Antifungal Activity and Detoxification by Fungus. Molecules. 2014 19 11404-11418.

  • 11. Götz M.; Albert A.; Stich S.; Heller W.; Scherb H.; Krins A.; Langebartels C.; Seidlitz H. K.; Ernst D. PAR modulation of the UVdependent levels of flavonoid metabolites in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. leaf rosettes: cumulative effects after a whole vegetative growth period. Protoplasma. 2010 243 95-103.

  • 12. Taylor L. P.; Jorgensen R. Conditional Male Fertility in Chalcone Synthase-Deficient Petunia. J. Hered. 1992 83 11-17.

  • 13. Ylstra B.; Busscher J.; Franken J.; Hollman P. C. H.; Mol J. N. M.; van Tunen A. J. Flavonols and fertilization in Petunia hybrida: localization and mode of action during pollen tube growth. Plant J. 1994 6 201-212.

  • 14. Ylstra B.; Muskens M.; van Tunen A. J. Flavonols are not essential for fertilization in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Mol. Biol. 1996 32 1155-1158.

  • 15. Pueppke S. G.; Bolanos-Vasquez M. C.; Werner D.; Bec-Ferte M. P.; Prome J. C.; Krishnan H. B. Release of Flavonoids by the Soybean Cultivars McCall and Peking and Their Perception as Signals by the Nitrogen-Fixing Symbiont Sinorhizobium fredii. Plant Physiol. 1998 117 599-606.

  • 16. Fu Y.; Chen J.; Li Y. J.; Zheng Y. F.; Li P. Antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities of six flavonoids separated from licorice. Food Chem. 2013 141 1063-1071.

  • 17. Lemmens K. J. A.; van de Wier B.; Vaes N.; Ghosh M.; van Zandvoort M. A. M. J.; van der Vijgh W. J. F.; Bast A.; Haenen G. R. M. M. The flavonoid 7-mono-O-(β-hydroxyethyl)-rutoside is able to protect endothelial cells by a direct antioxidant effect. Toxicol. in Vitro. 2014 28 538-543.

  • 18. Kang S. R.; Park K. I.; Park H. S.; Lee D. H.; Kim J. A.; Nagappan A.; Kim E. H.; Lee W. S.; Shin S. C.; Park M. K.; Han D. Y.; Kim G. S. Anti-inflammatory effect of flavonoids isolated from Korea Citrus aurantium L. on lipopolysaccharide-induced mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 cells by blocking of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and mitogenactivated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathways. Food Chem. 2011 129 1721-1728.

  • 19. Hertog M. G. L.; Feskens E. J. M.; Hollman P. C. H.; Katan M. B.; Kromhout D. Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Lancet. 1993 342 1007-1011.

  • 20. Testai L.; Martelli A.; Cristofaro M.; Breschi M. C.; Calderone V. Cardioprotective effects of different flavonoids against myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion injury in Langendorff-perfused rat hearts. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2013 65 750-756.

  • 21. Testai L.; Pozzo E. D.; Piano I.; Pistelli L.; Gargini C.; Breschi M. C.; Braca A.; Martini C.; Martelli A.; Calderone V. The Citrus Flavanone Naringenin Produces Cardioprotective Effects in Hearts from 1 Year Old Rat through Activation of mitoBK Channels. Front. Pharmacol. 2017 8 art. 71.

  • 22. Kushi L. H.; Doyle C.; McCullough M.; Rock C. L.; Demark-Wahnefried W.; Bandera E. V.; Gapstur S.; Patel A. V.; Andrews K.; Gansler T. American Cancer Society Guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. Ca. 2012 62 30-67.

  • 23. Chen J.; Chen A. Y.; Huang H.; Ye X.; Rollyson W. D.; Perry H. E.; Brown K. C.; Rojanasakul Y.; Rnakin G. O.; Dasgupta P.; Chen Y. C. The flavonoid nobiletin inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis of ovarian cancers via the Akt pathway. Int. J. Oncol. 2015 46 2629-2638.

  • 24. Srivastava S.; Somasagara R. R.; Hegde M.; Nishana M.; Tadi S. K.; Srivastava M.; Choudhary B.; Raghavan S. C. Quercetin a Natural Flavonoid Interacts with DNA Arrests Cell Cycle and Causes Tumor Regression by Activating Mitochondrial Pathway of Apoptosis. Sci. Rep. 2016 6 24049.

  • 25. Shi M. D.; Shiao C. K.; Lee Y. C.; Shih Y. W. Apigenin a dietary flavonoid inhibits proliferation of human bladder cancer T-24 cells via blocking cell cycle progression and inducing apoptosis. Cancer Cell Int. 2015 15 33.

  • 26. Smith M. L.; Murphy K.; Doucette C. D.; Greenshields A. L.; Hoskin D. W. The Dietary Flavonoid Fisetin Causes Cell Cycle Arrest Caspase-Dependent Apoptosis and Enhanced Cytotoxicity of Chemotherapeutic Drugs in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells. J. Cell Biochem. 2016 117 1913-1925.

  • 27. Luo H.; Daddysman M. K.; Rankin G. O.; Jiang B. H.; Chen Y. C. Kaempferol enhances cisplatin's effect on ovarian cancer cells through promoting apoptosis caused by down regulation of cMyc. Cancer Cell Int. 2010 10 16.

  • 28. Song J. M.; Lee K. H.; Seong B. L. Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus. Antivir. Res. 2005 68 66-74.

  • 29. Sithisarn P.; Michaelis M.; Schubert-Zsilavecz M.; Cinatl J. Differential antiviral and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the flavonoids biochanin A and baicalein in H5N1 influenza A virusinfected cells. Antivir. Res. 2013 97 41-48.

  • 30. Thongnest S.; Lhinhatrakool T.; Wetprasit N.; Sutthivaiyakit P.; Sutthivaiyakit S. Eriosema chinense: A rich source of antimicrobial and antioxidant flavonoids. Phytochem. 2013 96 353-359.

  • 31. Katerere D. R.; Gray A. I.; Nash R. J.; Waigh R. D. Phytochemical and antimicrobial investigations of stilbenoids and flavonoids isolated from three species of Combretaceae. Fitoterapia. 2012 83 932-940.

  • 32. Mbaveng A. T.; Ngameni B.; Kuete V.; Simo I. K.; Ambassa P.; Roy R.; Bezabih M.; Etoa F. X.; Ngadjui B. T.; Abegaz B. M.; Meyer J. J. M.; Lall N.; Beng V. P. Antimicrobial activity of the crude extracts and five flavonoids from the twigs of Dorstenia barteri (Moraceae). J. Ethnopharmacol. 2008 116 483-489.

  • 33. Arima H.; Ashida H.; Danno G. Rutin-enhanced Antibacterial Activities of Flavonoids against Bacillus cereus and Salmonella enteritidis. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2002 66 1009-1014.

  • 34. Fujita M.; Shiota S.; Kuroda T.; Hatano T.; Yoshida T.; Mizushima T.; Tsuchiya T. Remarkable synergies between baicalein and tetracycline and baicalein and beta-lactams against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Microbiol. Immunol. 2005 49 391-396.

  • 35. Bahrin L. G.; Apostu M. O.; Birsa L. M.; Stefan M. The antibacterial properties of sulfur containing flavonoids. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2014 24 2315-2318.

  • 36. Bahrin L. G.; Sarbu L. G.; Hopf H.; Jones P. G.; Babii C.; Stefan M.; Birsa L. M. The influence of halogen substituents on the biological properties of sulfur-containing flavonoids. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2016 24 3166-3173.

  • 37. Bahrin L. G.; Hopf H.; Jones P. G.; Sarbu L. G.; Babii C.; Mihai A. C.; Stefan M.; Birsa L. M. Antibacterial structure-activity relationship studies of several tricyclic sulfur-containing flavonoids. Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 2016 12 1065-1071.

  • 38. Babii C.; Bahrin L. G.; Neagu A. N.; Gostin I.; Mihasan M.; Birsa L. M.; Stefan M. Antibacterial activity and proposed action mechanism of a new class of synthetic tricyclic flavonoids. J. Appl. Microbiol. 2016 120 630-637.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 364 188 6
PDF Downloads 257 164 12