Comparison of the Neuroprotective and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of the Anthocyanin Metabolites, Protocatechuic Acid and 4-Hydroxybenzoic Acid

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Neuroprotective, Anthocyanins, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, Protocatechuic acid

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College of Natural Science and Mathematics, Biological Sciences


Anthocyanins are being increasingly investigated for their neuroprotective and antineuroinflammatory effects; however, the overall bioavailability of many anthocyanins is relatively low. In contrast, phenolic acids, metabolites of many polyphenols, including anthocyanins, have been shown to accumulate in tissue at higher concentrations than those of parent compounds, suggesting that these metabolites may be the bioactive components of anthocyanin-rich diets. We examined the neuroprotective capacity of two common phenolic acids, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (HBA) and protocatechuic acid (PCA), in primary cultures of cerebellar granule neurons. Both HBA and PCA are capable of mitigating oxidative stress induced by hydrogen peroxide, which is thought to contribute to neuronal cell death in neurodegeneration. Under conditions of nitrosative stress, which occur during inflammation in the central nervous system, only PCA was neuroprotective, despite similar structural characteristics between HBA and PCA. Intriguingly, this trend was reversed under conditions of excitotoxicity, in which only HBA was neuroprotective. Lastly, we explored the anti-inflammatory activity of these compounds in microglial cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide. PCA was an effective anti-inflammatory agent, reducing nitric oxide production, while HBA had no effect. These data indicate that phenolic acids possess distinct neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory characteristics that could make them suitable for the treatment of neurodegeneration.

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