Phenolic compounds can induce systemic and central immunomodulation, which result in a neuroprotective effect

J. Abraham Domínguez-Avila, Norma J. Salazar-López, Marcelino Montiel-Herrera, Alejandro Martínez-Martínez, Mónica A. Villegas-Ochoa, Gustavo A. González-Aguilar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Inflammation may negatively impact health, particularly that of the central nervous system. Phenolic compounds are bioactive molecules present in fruits and vegetables with potential anti-inflammatory effects. The purpose of the present work is to review the immunomodulatory bioactivities of phenolic compounds in the periphery and in the central nervous system. Results show that various types of phenolics are able to counter diet- or pathogen-induced systemic inflammation (among others) in various models. In vitro data show significant effects of flavonoids and phenolic acids in particular; similar bioactivities were reported in vivo, when administering them as pure compounds or from fruit and vegetable extracts that contain them. In the central nervous system, phenolics counter chronic inflammation and aggressive acute inflammatory processes, such as ischemic events, when administered preemptively and even therapeutically. We therefore conclude that the immunomodulatory potential of phenolic compounds can maintain an adequate immune response; their regular consumption should therefore be prioritized in order to maintain health. Practical applications: The immune response must be carefully regulated in order to avoid its deleterious effects. The present work highlights how phenolic compounds, dietary components ubiquitous in everyday diet, are able to maintain it within an adequate range. As humans are exposed to more proinflammatory stimuli (inadequate dietary pattern, mental stress, environmental pollution, chronic diseases, etc.), it becomes necessary to counter them, and consuming adequate amounts of foods that contain compounds with this ability is a rather simple strategy. Thus, the present work highlights how fruits and vegetables can help to maintain an adequate immune response that can preserve systemic health and that of the central nervous system. Furthermore, specific compounds contained in them can also be ideal candidates for additional in-depth studies, which can potentially lead to the development of potent, targeted, and safe anti-inflammatory molecules.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Food Biochemistry
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Instituto de Bebidas de la Industria Mexicana de Coca‐Cola through Project “Inducción de saciedad y modulación de la digestión intestinal de lípidos ejercidos por los compuestos fenólicos de aguacate Hass” (Premio Nacional en Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos 2019) and by CIAD.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • fruits and vegetables
  • immunity
  • inflammation
  • phenolic acids


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