Anti-inflammatory effect of anthocyanins via modulation of nuclear factor-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling cascades

Nutr Rev. 2015 Jun;73(6):348-58. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuu066. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


Anthocyanins are a group of bioactive compounds present in plant foods. Although they have consistently shown an anti-inflammatory effect both in vitro and in vivo, their mechanisms of action are not fully understood and have only recently begun to be elucidated. The aim of this review is to highlight the anti-inflammatory activity of anthocyanins, including their effect on the expression of several genes involved in inflammation. The available evidence suggests that their anti-inflammatory action can be attributed primarily to their antioxidant properties, which result in downregulation of the redox-sensitive nuclear factor-κB signaling pathway. Other pathways at least partly involved in the inflammatory response, particularly the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, also appear to play a role. A discussion is presented on the most effective dose of anthocyanins, the differential contribution of specific compounds, the comparative effects of anthocyanins versus other anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds, and the extent to which the observed biological activities are exerted by anthocyanins themselves or their metabolites.

Keywords: activator protein-1; anthocyanins; inflammation; mitogen-activated protein kinases; nuclear factor-κB; signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Anthocyanins / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Edible / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction


  • Anthocyanins
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • NF-kappa B
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases