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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Increasing evidence supports the beneficial effects of polyphenol-rich diets, including the traditional Mediterranean diet, for the management of cardiovascular disease, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases. However, a common concern when discussing the protective effects of polyphenol-rich diets against diseases is whether these compounds are present in systemic circulation in their intact/parent forms in order to exert their beneficial effects in vivo. Here, we explore two common classes of dietary polyphenols, namely isoflavones and lignans, and their gut microbial-derived metabolites for gut and blood–brain barrier predicted permeability, as well as protection against neuroinflammatory stimuli in murine BV-2 microglia. Polyphenol microbial metabolites (PMMs) generally showed greater permeability through artificial gut and blood–brain barriers compared to their parent compounds. The parent polyphenols and their corresponding PMMs were evaluated for protective effects against lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in BV-2 microglia. The lignan-derived PMMs, equol and enterolactone, exhibited protective effects against nitric oxide production, as well as against pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-α) in BV-2 microglia. Therefore, PMMs may contribute, in large part, to the beneficial effects attributed to polyphenol-rich diets, further supporting the important role of gut microbiota in human health and disease prevention.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Shelby L. Johnson, Hang Ma and Navindra P. Seeram are also associated with the George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience.