Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: What you need to know about Polyphenols

Below is a great review that discusses the importance of understanding oxidative stress and inflammation as it relates to chronic injury and disease. It also discusses polyphenols, natural occurring compounds that are present in plants and are involved with numerous biological activities. According to the study, polyphenols can play a role in inhibiting molecular signaling pathways activated by oxidative stress. They may also have an important role when it comes to addressing inflammation and chronic disorders.

It’s important to remember that for every condition we deal with or patient that presents with pain, inflammation can be involved or responsible. As Health and Fitness professionals, we typically do a great job of dealing with conditions from the outside-in (therapy, rehab, flexibility and mobility training, modalities, tape, etc.). But if we aren’t dealing with the internal causes of inflammation (diet, hydration, pH balance), we may be missing a major factor in our patients’ overall health and may be limiting our ability to get results.

Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: What Polyphenols Can Do for Us?

Tarique Hussain,1,2 Bie Tan,1,3 Yulong Yin,1 Francois Blachier,4 Myrlene C. B. Tossou,1,2 and Najma Rahu

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 7432797, 9 pages
Review Article


Oxidative stress is viewed as an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and their elimination by protective mechanisms, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Oxidative stress can activate a variety of transcription factors, which lead to the differential expression of some genes involved in inflammatory pathways. The inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the cause of many chronic diseases. Polyphenols have been proposed to be useful as adjuvant therapy for their potential anti-inflammatory effect, associated with antioxidant activity, and inhibition of enzymes involved in the production of eicosanoids. This review aims at exploring the properties of polyphenols in anti-inflammation and oxidation and the mechanisms of polyphenols inhibiting molecular signaling pathways which are activated by oxidative stress, as well as the possible roles of polyphenols in inflammation-mediated chronic disorders.


Oxidative stress refers to the excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the cells and tissues and antioxidant system being unable to neutralize them. Imbalance in this protective mechanism can lead to the damage of cellular molecules such as DNA, proteins, and lipids [1]. Reactive oxygen species are normally produced within the body in limited quantity and are important compounds involved in the regulation of processes involving the maintaining of cell homeostasis and functions such as signal transduction, gene expression, and activation of receptors [2]. Mitochondrial oxidative metabolism in cells produces ROS species and organic peroxides in the process of cell respiration [3]. In addition, in hypoxic conditions, nitric oxide may also be produced during the respiratory chain reaction [4]. This latter reactive nitrogen species (RNS) may further lead to the production of reactive species such as reactive aldehydes, malondioaldehyde, and 4-hydroxynonenal [5]. Main targets of oxidative stress are proteins, lipids, and DNA/RNA, and modifications in these molecules may increase the chances of mutagenesis. ROS/RNS overproduction notably over a prolonged period of time can cause damage of the cellular structure and functions and may induce somatic mutations and preneoplastic and neoplastic transformations. Then, excessive production of ROS in cells and tissues may be deleterious if not removed quickly [6]. Indeed, excessive ROS/RNS production may cause irreversible damage to cells resulting in cell death by the necrotic and apoptotic processes [7].

Polyphenols are natural compounds present in plants with numerous biological activities. Phenolic compounds and flavonoids can interact with ROS/RNS and thus terminate chain reaction before cell viability is seriously affected [21].

Conclusion and Perspectives

Polyphenols are compounds with various potential biological properties – such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-neoplastic, anti-aging, cardioprotective, anti-cancer, and anti-microbial properties. Polyphenols are gaining interest due to their wide applications in different pathological situations.

Oxidative stress activates a variety of inflammatory mediators involved in several chronic diseases. Clinical evidence suggests that oxidative stress and inflammation linked to overproduction of ROS are likely to represent an important component for the development of several diseases, including inflammation-associated chronic diseases. Numerous studies performed with animal and cell models suggest that polyphenol dietary intake may be beneficial as adjuvant treatment for the prevention and treatment among such diseases. However, only few clinical studies, notably those done in a double-blind manner, have been performed in order to establish the relevance of these experimental studies for extrapolation to human beings.

A better clarification and understanding of the mechanisms presumably involved in the protective role of polyphenols in adverse situations will help to more precisely define the clinical situations where polyphenol consumption will prove to be beneficial. Such investigation may also prove useful for the development of new compounds with anti-inflammatory effects.

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