Flavonoids have been gathering quite the attention from medicinal chemists and supplement companies due to a wide variety of biological activities. Today we want to highlight one of the prominent flavonoids that have been known directly and also indirectly from ancient folk medicine – luteolin. Read on to get to know more about this powerful compound.
What is Luteolin?
Luteolin (3’,4’,5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone) is a flavonoid-type compound. The structure of luteolin consists of two aromatic polyphenolic rings strung together with lactone moiety. Due to this structure, luteolin benefits in many biological scenarios like:
- estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity
- and many more
Natural abundance and luteolin foods
Luteolin is quite abundant in nature. It can be found in the vast majority of vegetables and fruits like celery, parsley, carrots, cabbages, peppers, apple skins, and many more. Lueotlin in plants is typically found in its glycosylated form – attached to sugar. After ingestion, it is typically broken down in its free form.
Such plants and foods have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for various diseases.
The anti-oxidative potential of luteolin
Like most other flavonoids, luteolin possesses high antioxidant potential.
The main reason for oxidative stress in our bodies is the reactivity of short-living reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that can react with healthy molecules in our bodies. Thanks to its structure of polyphenolic moieties, it can neutralize these species of molecules, preventing damaging for example DNA, healthy lipids, or proteins in our bodies.
Moreover, there are scientific reports suggesting a secondary role of luteolin by activating our body’s natural antioxidative response to oxidative stress.
Dietary effects of luteolin
Like other flavonoid compounds, luteolin has been associated with positive effects on glucose and fat absorption and their blood level regulation.
Luteolin supplements can enhance the life quality of patients with type 2 diabetes by regulating glucose levels. The same regulating effect can lead to better use of glucose for the energy of our skeletal muscle thus leading to better weight regulation.
Luteolin as an anti-cancer agent
Luteolin as an anti-cancer agent is quite a hot topic in the field of medicinal chemistry. Scientists have identified that luteolin is quite active with lots of enzymes in cancer cell lines and can interfere with almost all cellular pathways through the lifespan of a cancer cell like: inhibit cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis, preventing angiogenesis, suppressing cell survival signaling, and could even prevent the formation of metastasis.
Scientists have identified that luteolin is active against lung cancer, leukemia, breast cancer epidermoid carcinoma, pancreatic cancer, and much more.
Furthermore, luteolin could also be exploited as an additive in chemotherapy. On one hand, it can reduce the harmful effects like inflammation of drugs used in the chemo. On the other hand, it can sensitize cancer cells to more potent drugs.
Anti-inflammatory properties of luteolin
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to help heal an injury. However, in some cases, chronic inflammation can cause various diseases. In such cases, our body is activating multiple mechanisms of defense which leads to an increase of reactive oxygen species in the place of inflammation. As we mentioned before, the anti-oxidative potential of luteolin can help to relieve the effects of such processes.
Luteolin can also inhibit several enzymes, that in their metabolic pathway were able to induce inflammation.
Perspectives of luteolin
As we have discussed, luteolin exhibits a quite broad variety of biological activity. Moreover, in past years the research has been speeding up in luteolin-related research suggesting this as a still blooming compound for research. We believe that it still is going to be a hot subject for a few years and hopefully have gained some trust in this compound whether as a supplement or folk remedy.
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