Health benefits of anthocyanins and molecular mechanisms: Update from recent decade

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 May 24;57(8):1729-1741. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1030064.


Anthocyanins are one of the most widespread families of natural pigments in the plant kingdom. Their health beneficial effects have been documented in many in vivo and in vitro studies. This review summarizes the most recent literature regarding the health benefits of anthocyanins and their molecular mechanisms. It appears that several signaling pathways, including mitogen-activated protein kinase, nuclear factor κB, AMP-activated protein kinase, and Wnt/β-catenin, as well as some crucial cellular processes, such as cell cycle, apoptosis, autophagy, and biochemical metabolism, are involved in these beneficial effects and may provide potential therapeutic targets and strategies for the improvement of a wide range of diseases in future. In addition, specific anthocyanin metabolites contributing to the observed in vivo biological activities, structure-activity relationships as well as additive and synergistic efficacy of anthocyanins are also discussed.

Keywords: Anthocyanins; anti-cancer activity; anti-inflammation activity; benefits; mechanism; neuroprotective activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / chemistry*
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cell Cycle
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Anthocyanins
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Neuroprotective Agents