Mechanism of action of flavonoids as anti-inflammatory agents: a review

Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2009 Jul;8(3):229-35. doi: 10.2174/187152809788681029.


Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that occur ubiquitously in plants having a variety of biological effects both in vitro and in vivo. They have been found to have antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-ulcerogenic, cytotoxic, anti-neoplastic, mutagenic, antioxidant, antihepatotoxic, antihypertensive, hypolipidemic, antiplatelet and anti-inflammatory activities. Flavonoids also have biochemical effects, which inhibit a number of enzymes such as aldose reductase, xanthine oxidase, phosphodiesterase, Ca(+2)-ATPase, lipoxygenase, cycloxygenase, etc. They also have a regulatory role on different hormones like estrogens, androgens and thyroid hormone. They have been found to have anti-inflammatory activity in both proliferative and exudative phases of inflammation. Several mechanisms of action have been proposed to explain anti-inflammatory action of flavonoids. The aim of the present review is to give an overview of the mechanism of action of potential anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Histamine Release / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinases / drug effects
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Flavonoids
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein Kinases
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases