Antioxidant Properties of Crocus Sativus L. and Its Constituents and Relevance to Neurodegenerative Diseases; Focus on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(4):377-402. doi: 10.2174/1570159X16666180321095705.


Background: Reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species, which are collectively called reactive oxygen-nitrogen species, are the inevitable by-products of cellular metabolic redox reactions, such as oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, phagocytosis, reactions of biotransformation of exogenous and endogenous substrata in endoplasmic reticulum, eicosanoid synthesis, and redox reactions in the presence of metal with variable valence. Among medicinal plants, there is growing interest in Crocus Sativus L. It is a perennial, stemless herb, belonging to Iridaceae family, cultivated in various countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Israel, Morocco, Turkey, Iran, India, China, Egypt and Mexico.

Objective: The present study aims to address the protective role of Crocus Sativus L. in neurodegeneration with an emphasis in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Materials and methods: An electronic literature search was conducted by two of the authors from 1993 to August 2017. Original articles and systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis), as well as case reports were selected. Titles and abstracts of papers were screened by a third reviewer to determine whether they met the eligibility criteria, and full texts of the selected articles were retrieved.

Results: Hence, the authors focused on the literature concerning the role of Crocus Sativus L. on its anti-oxidant and neuroprotective properties.

Conclusion: Literature findings represented in current review herald promising results for using Crocus Sativus L. and/or its active constituents as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective agents.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson's disease; Saffron; crocetin; crocin; neurodegeneration; oxidative stress; safranal..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts