Flavonoids and Mitochondria: Activation of Cytoprotective Pathways?

Molecules. 2020 Jul 4;25(13):3060. doi: 10.3390/molecules25133060.


A large number of diverse mechanisms that lead to cytoprotection have been described to date. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the role of mitochondria in these phenomena is notable. In addition to being metabolic centers, due to their role in cell catabolism, ATP synthesis, and biosynthesis these organelles are triggers and/or end-effectors of a large number of signaling pathways. Their role in the regulation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, calcium homeostasis, and reactive oxygen species signaling is well documented. In this review, we aim to characterize the prospects of influencing cytoprotective mitochondrial signaling routes by natural substances of plant origin, namely, flavonoids (e.g., flavanones, flavones, flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanidins, and isoflavones). Flavonoids are a family of widely distributed plant secondary metabolites known for their beneficial effects on human health and are widely applied in traditional medicine. Their pharmacological characteristics include antioxidative, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antidiabetic properties. Here, we focus on presenting mitochondria-mediated cytoprotection against various insults. Thus, the role of flavonoids as antioxidants and modulators of antioxidant cellular response, apoptosis, mitochondrial biogenesis, autophagy, and fission and fusion is reported. Finally, an emerging field of flavonoid-mediated changes in the activity of mitochondrial ion channels and their role in cytoprotection is outlined.

Keywords: cytoprotection; flavonoids; mitochondria; mitochondrial ion channels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cytoprotection*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids