Functions of flavonoids in the central nervous system: Astrocytes as targets for natural compounds

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In the last decade, there have been major advances in the understanding of the role of glial cells as key elements in the formation, maintenance and refinement of synapses. Recently, the discovery of natural compounds capable of modulating nervous system function has revealed new perspectives on the restoration of the injured brain. Among these compounds, flavonoids stand out as molecules easily obtainable in the diet that have remarkable effects on cognitive performance and behavior. Nevertheless, little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the actions of flavonoids in the nervous system. The present review presents recent advances in the effects of natural compounds, particularly flavonoids, in the nervous system. We shed light on astrocytes as targets of flavonoids and discuss how this interaction might contribute to the effects of flavonoids on neuronal survival, differentiation and function. Finally, we discuss how the effects of flavonoids on astrocytes might contribute to the development of alternative therapeutic approaches to the treatment of neural diseases.

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