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Metabolism of Flavonoids in Human: A Comprehensive Review

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Flavonoids are naturally occurring polyphenols, which are widely taken in diets, supplements and herbal medicines. Epidemiological studies have shown a flavonoid-rich diet is associated with the decrease in incidence of a range of diseases. Pharmacological evidences also reveal flavonoids display anti-oxidant, anti-allergic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-diarrheal activities. Therefore, it is critical to study the biotransformation and disposition of flavonoids in human. This review summarizes the major metabolism pathways of flavonoids in human. First, lactase-phlorizin hydrolase (LPH) and human intestinal microflora mediate the hydrolysis of flavonoid glycosides, which is recognized as the first and determinant step in the absorption of flavonoids. Second, phase II metabolic enzymes (UGTs, SULTs and COMT) dominate the metabolism of flavonoids in vivo. UGTs are the most major contributors, followed by SULTs and COMT. By contrast, phase I metabolism pathway mediated by CYPs only plays a minor role. Third, the coupling of transporters (such as BCRP and MRPs) and phase II enzymes (UGTs and SULTs) plays an important role in the disposition of flavonoids, especially in the enteroenteric and enterohepatic circulations. Thus, all the above factors should be taken into consideration when studying pharmacokinetics of flavonoids. Here we describe a comprehensive metabolism profile of flavonoids, which will enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the disposition and pharmacological effects of flavonoids in vivo.
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Keywords: Efflux transporter; flavonoid; glucuronidation; metabolism; methylation; sulfation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.
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