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Neuroprotective effect of cocoa flavonids on in vitro oxidative stress

An ERRATUM to this article was published on 10 December 2008



Cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids that, among other functions, can act as antioxidants. In living systems, the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) activate an array of intracellular cascades, including mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), that are closely associated with cell death or survival pathways.

Aim of the study

To ascertain the role of a cocoa extract and its main flavonoid, (-)-epicatechin, in an in vitro model of oxidative stress induced in a neuronal cell line.


We analyzed ROS production by fluorometry (dichlorofluorescein assay), and activation of MAPK pathways including extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK 1/2), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p-38, by Western blot analysis.


Cells incubated with cocoa extract or (-)-epicatechin, reduced ROS production in a dose-dependent manner, reaching 35% inhibition. pJNK and p38, involved in apoptosis, were down-modulated by cocoa extract and (-)-epicatechin with p38 inhibition reaching up to 70%.


Our results show that cocoa extract and (-)-epicatechin may exert a neuroprotective action by reducing ROS production and modulating MAPK activation.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3



Alzheimer’s disease


Analysis of variance


Amyloid-β protein






Dimethyl sulfoxide

ERK 1/2:

Extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2


Glutathione-S-transferase enzyme-class Pi


reduced DCF


c-Jun N-terminal kinase


Lactate dehydrogenase


Mitogen-activated protein kinases


Oxygen radical absorbance capacity


Phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride


Reactive oxygen species


Room temperature


Superoxide dismutase


Tris buffered saline solution


TBS with 0.1% Tween 20


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E.R. is the recipient of fellowships from the Generalitat de Catalunya (2003FI 00578 and 2005BE 00709).

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Correspondence to Margarida Castell.

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An erratum to this article can be found under doi:10.1007/s00394-008-0766-z.

An erratum to this article can be found at

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Ramiro-Puig, E., Casadesús, G., Lee, Hg. et al. Neuroprotective effect of cocoa flavonids on in vitro oxidative stress. Eur J Nutr 48, 54–61 (2009).

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  • cocoa
  • c-JNK
  • MAPK
  • neuronal damage
  • oxidative stress