Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 99–109 | Cite as

Do polyphenols enter the brain and does it matter? Some theoretical and practical considerations



Although several epidemiological and intervention studies suggest that polyphenols (PPs) and PP-rich foods may improve memory and cognition in animals and humans, PPs’ mode of action is only poorly understood. To help distinguish between the different modes of action that have been proposed for PPs, it is obviously important to know how much PPs can accumulate in the brain, if any at all. However, reliable data on PP uptake into the brain of animals are limited as many studies failed to report important control procedures during data acquisition. In this paper, we summarize published data on the penetration of PPs into animal brain and review some hypotheses to explain the biological basis of potentially health-beneficial effects of PPs to the brain. Finally, we highlight promising new approaches, especially those of a hormetic dose-response and gut microbiota-brain interaction, which may allow a better understanding of PPs’ mode of action in animals and humans.


Antioxidants Effective brain concentration Gut microbiota Hormesis Metabolic signalling Polyphenols Plasma concentration Residual blood Vitamin C 


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Centre for Life SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.National University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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