A Pharmacological Update of Ellagic Acid

Planta Med. 2018 Oct;84(15):1068-1093. doi: 10.1055/a-0633-9492. Epub 2018 May 30.


Ellagic acid is a common metabolite present in many medicinal plants and vegetables. It is present either in free form or as part of more complex molecules (ellagitannins), which can be metabolized to liberate ellagic acid and several of its metabolites, including urolithins. While ellagic acid's antioxidant properties are doubtless responsible for many of its pharmacological activities, other mechanisms have also been implicated in its various effects, including its ability to reduce the lipidemic profile and lipid metabolism, alter pro-inflammatory mediators (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6), and decrease the activity of nuclear factor-κB while increasing nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 expression. These events play an important role in ellagic acid's anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. Several of these activities, together with the effect of ellagic acid on insulin, glycogen, phosphatases, aldose reductase, sorbitol accumulation, advanced glycation end-product formation, and resistin secretion, may explain its effects on metabolic syndrome and diabetes. In addition, results from recent research have increased the interest in ellagic acid, both as a potential protective agent of the liver and skin and as a potential anticancer agent, due to the specific mechanisms affecting cell proliferation, apoptosis, DNA damage, and angiogenesis and its aforementioned anti-inflammatory properties. Taken together, these effects make ellagic acid a highly interesting compound that may contribute to different aspects of health; however, more studies are needed, especially on the compound's pharmacokinetic profile. In this review, we selected papers published from 2005 to the present.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Ellagic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neuroprotection
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • Protective Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ellagic Acid