Ferulic acid and its therapeutic potential as a hormetin for age-related diseases
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Ferulic acid (FA) is a polyphenol very abundant in vegetables and maize bran. Several lines of evidence have shown that FA acts as a potent antioxidant in vitro, due to its ability to scavenge free radicals and induce a robust cell stress response through the up-regulation of cytoprotective enzymes such as heme oxygenase-1, heat shock protein 70, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and Akt. Furthermore, FA inhibited the expression and/or activity of cytotoxic enzymes including inducible nitric oxide synthase, caspases and cyclooxygenase-2. On this basis, FA has been proposed for the treatment of several age-related diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. However, although the great abundance of in vitro data, the real efficacy of FA in humans has not been demonstrated so far. New efforts and resources should be transferred to clinical research for the complete evaluation of the therapeutic potential of FA in chronic diseases.
KeywordsAging Ferulic acid Free radicals Heme oxygenase Neurodegenerative disorders
The authors are grateful to Prof. Paolo Preziosi MD, Emeritus of Pharmacology at the Catholic University School of Medicine in Roma, for his helpful comments and suggestions and for reading the manuscript. This work was supported by Fondi Ateneo 2007 and 2008 to C.M.
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