Quercetin: A flavonol with multifaceted therapeutic applications?

Fitoterapia. 2015 Oct:106:256-71. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2015.09.018. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Great interest is currently centered on the biologic activities of quercetin a polyphenol belonging to the class of flavonoids, natural products well known for their beneficial effects on health, long before their biochemical characterization. In particular, quercetin is categorized as a flavonol, one of the five subclasses of flavonoid compounds. Although flavonoids occur as either glycosides (with attached glycosyl groups) or as aglycones, most altogether of the dietary intake concerning quercetin is in the glycoside form. Following chewing, digestion, and absorption sugar moieties can be released from quercetin glycosides. Several organs contribute to quercetin metabolism, including the small intestine, the kidneys, the large intestine, and the liver, giving rise to glucuronidated, methylated, and sulfated forms of quercetin; moreover, free quercetin (such as aglycone) is also found in plasma. Quercetin is now largely utilized as a nutritional supplement and as a phytochemical remedy for a variety of diseases like diabetes/obesity and circulatory dysfunction, including inflammation as well as mood disorders. Owing to its basic chemical structure themost obvious feature of quercetin is its strong antioxidant activity which potentially enables it to quench free radicals from forming resonance-stabilized phenoxyl radicals. In this review the molecular, cellular, and functional bases of therapy will be emphasized taking strictly into account data appearing in the peer-reviewed literature and summarizing the main therapeutic applications of quercetin; furthermore, the drug metabolism and the main drug interaction as well as the potential toxicity will be also spotlighted.

Keywords: Dietary sources; Drug interactions; Metabolism; Quercetin; Therapeutic applications; Toxicity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Glycosides / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Quercetin / chemistry*
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Glycosides
  • Quercetin