Chemistry, Pharmacology and Health Benefits of Anthocyanins

Phytother Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):1265-86. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5642. Epub 2016 May 25.


Anthocyanins are naturally occurring molecules belonging to the flavonoid class characterized by the presence of chromophores. Apart from their well-known antioxidant activity, they show a wide variety of health-promoting properties for human health, ranging from cytoprotective, antimicrobial and antitumour activities to neuroprotective, anti-obesity and lipidomic potential, properties for which anthocyanins have been prescribed as medicines in several countries for thousands of years. Despite this, these phytochemicals have received less attention than other flavonoids, and there is still a gap in the literature, particularly regarding pharmacological and toxicological aspects. Moreover, epidemiological evidence suggests a direct correlation between anthocyanin intake and a lower incidence of chronic and degenerative diseases. In light of this, the aim of this review is to cover the current literature on anthocyanins, their biological in vitro and in vivo effects and their potential therapeutic applications, as well as their bioavailability and pharmacokinetics, all of which are essential to gain a better understanding of their biological effectiveness and potential toxicity. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: anthocyanins; dietary sources; health effects; pharmacokinetics; toxicological aspects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / chemistry*
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacology*
  • Humans


  • Anthocyanins