International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol.14, No.2, 3540-3555, 2013
Flavonoids as Antioxidants and Developmental Regulators: Relative Significance in Plants and Humans
Phenylpropanoids, particularly flavonoids have been recently suggested as playing primary antioxidant functions in the responses of plants to a wide range of abiotic stresses. Furthermore, flavonoids are effective endogenous regulators of auxin movement, thus behaving as developmental regulators. Flavonoids are capable of controlling the development of individual organs and the whole-plant; and, hence, to contribute to stress-induced morphogenic responses of plants. The significance of flavonoids as scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in humans has been recently questioned, based on the observation that the flavonoid concentration in plasma and most tissues is too low to effectively reduce ROS. Instead, flavonoids may play key roles as signaling molecules in mammals, through their ability to interact with a wide range of protein kinases, including mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), that supersede key steps of cell growth and differentiation. Here we discuss about the relative significance of flavonoids as reducing agents and signaling molecules in plants and humans. We show that structural features conferring ROS-scavenger ability to flavonoids are also required to effectively control developmental processes in eukaryotic cells.