, Volume 240, Issue 5, pp 901–911 | Cite as

Anthocyanins in corn: a wealth of genes for human health

Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Anthocyanins


Different epidemiological and preclinical studies have demonstrated that regular consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods is associated to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and obesity. However, assigning a health property to anthocyanins or other classes of flavonoids may be limited by the influence of other metabolites of plant-based food consumed in the diet, acting as possible confounding factors. The development of model foods essentially isogenic and nutritionally identical except that in the type and quantity of plant bioactives to be studied represents an important tool in nutritional studies. The extensive knowledge of the regulation of flavonoid pathway in maize can be exploited to obtain ‘near-isogenic’ model foods, which differ only in the content of specific classes of flavonoids. Being obtainable by breeding strategies, maize model foods can provide functional foods that can be used for both animal feeding studies and human intervention trials for assessing the role of flavonoids or other bioactives in preventing chronic diseases. This review will be focused on recent advances regarding the anthocyanin biosynthesis in maize, the role of anthocyanins from corn in preventing chronic diseases and finally on the breeding activities to produce maize functional foods with increased anthocyanin content.


Chronic diseases Functional food Maize Model food Nutrigenomics 



red color1




colored aleurone1 or colorless1


purple plant1


pericarp color1


purple aleurone1


Basic helix-loop-helix


Chalcone synthase


Chalcone isomerase


Flavanone 3-hydroxylase


Flavanone 3′-hydroxylase


Dihydroflavonol reductase


Flavonol synthase


Anthocyanidin synthase






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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di BioscienzeUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali-Produzione, Territorio, AgroenergiaUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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