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      Antimicrobial activity of flavonoids

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          Abstract

          Flavonoids are ubiquitous in photosynthesising cells and are commonly found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, stems, flowers, tea, wine, propolis and honey. For centuries, preparations containing these compounds as the principal physiologically active constituents have been used to treat human diseases. Increasingly, this class of natural products is becoming the subject of anti-infective research, and many groups have isolated and identified the structures of flavonoids possessing antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity. Moreover, several groups have demonstrated synergy between active flavonoids as well as between flavonoids and existing chemotherapeutics. Reports of activity in the field of antibacterial flavonoid research are widely conflicting, probably owing to inter- and intra-assay variation in susceptibility testing. However, several high-quality investigations have examined the relationship between flavonoid structure and antibacterial activity and these are in close agreement. In addition, numerous research groups have sought to elucidate the antibacterial mechanisms of action of selected flavonoids. The activity of quercetin, for example, has been at least partially attributed to inhibition of DNA gyrase. It has also been proposed that sophoraflavone G and (−)-epigallocatechin gallate inhibit cytoplasmic membrane function, and that licochalcones A and C inhibit energy metabolism. Other flavonoids whose mechanisms of action have been investigated include robinetin, myricetin, apigenin, rutin, galangin, 2,4,2′-trihydroxy-5′-methylchalcone and lonchocarpol A. These compounds represent novel leads, and future studies may allow the development of a pharmacologically acceptable antimicrobial agent or class of agents.

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          Most cited references 137

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          The effects of plant flavonoids on mammalian cells: implications for inflammation, heart disease, and cancer.

          Flavonoids are nearly ubiquitous in plants and are recognized as the pigments responsible for the colors of leaves, especially in autumn. They are rich in seeds, citrus fruits, olive oil, tea, and red wine. They are low molecular weight compounds composed of a three-ring structure with various substitutions. This basic structure is shared by tocopherols (vitamin E). Flavonoids can be subdivided according to the presence of an oxy group at position 4, a double bond between carbon atoms 2 and 3, or a hydroxyl group in position 3 of the C (middle) ring. These characteristics appear to also be required for best activity, especially antioxidant and antiproliferative, in the systems studied. The particular hydroxylation pattern of the B ring of the flavonoles increases their activities, especially in inhibition of mast cell secretion. Certain plants and spices containing flavonoids have been used for thousands of years in traditional Eastern medicine. In spite of the voluminous literature available, however, Western medicine has not yet used flavonoids therapeutically, even though their safety record is exceptional. Suggestions are made where such possibilities may be worth pursuing.
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            The biochemistry and medical significance of the flavonoids.

            Flavonoids are plant pigments that are synthesised from phenylalanine, generally display marvelous colors known from flower petals, mostly emit brilliant fluorescence when they are excited by UV light, and are ubiquitous to green plant cells. The flavonoids are used by botanists for taxonomical classification. They regulate plant growth by inhibition of the exocytosis of the auxin indolyl acetic acid, as well as by induction of gene expression, and they influence other biological cells in numerous ways. Flavonoids inhibit or kill many bacterial strains, inhibit important viral enzymes, such as reverse transcriptase and protease, and destroy some pathogenic protozoans. Yet, their toxicity to animal cells is low. Flavonoids are major functional components of many herbal and insect preparations for medical use, e.g., propolis (bee's glue) and honey, which have been used since ancient times. The daily intake of flavonoids with normal food, especially fruit and vegetables, is 1-2 g. Modern authorised physicians are increasing their use of pure flavonoids to treat many important common diseases, due to their proven ability to inhibit specific enzymes, to simulate some hormones and neurotransmitters, and to scavenge free radicals.
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              Advances in flavonoid research since 1992.

              Some of the recent advances in flavonoid research are reviewed. The role of anthocyanins and flavones in providing stable blue flower colours in the angiosperms is outlined. The contribution of leaf flavonoids to UV-B protection in plants is critically discussed. Advances in understanding the part played by flavonoids in warding off microbial infection and protecting plants from herbivory are described. The biological properties of flavonoids are considered in an evaluation of the medicinal and nutritional values of these compounds.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Int J Antimicrob Agents
                Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents
                International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
                Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy.
                0924-8579
                1872-7913
                19 October 2005
                November 2005
                19 October 2005
                : 26
                : 5
                : 343-356
                Affiliations
                School of Pharmacy, The Robert Gordon University, Schoolhill, Aberdeen AB10 1FR, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1224 262 526; fax: +44 1224 262 555. a.lamb@ 123456rgu.ac.uk
                Article
                S0924-8579(05)00255-4
                10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2005.09.002
                7127073
                16323269
                Copyright © 2005 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.

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