Polyphenols in the treatment of autoimmune diseases

Haroon Khan, Antoni Sureda, Tarun Belwal, Sümeyra Çetinkaya, İpek Süntar, Silvia Tejada, Hari Prasad Devkota, Hammad Ullah, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


In addition to protecting body from infections and diseases, the immune system produces auto-antibodies that can cause complex autoimmune disorders, such as Type I diabetes, primary biliary cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, to name a few. In such cases, the immune system fails to recognize between foreign agents and its own body cells. Different factors, such as genetic factors (CD25, STAT4), epigenetic factors (DNA methylation, histone modifications) and environmental factors (xenobiotics, drugs, hormones) trigger autoimmunity. Glucocorticoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressive and biological agents are currently used to manage autoimmune diseases of different origins. However, complete cure remains elusive. Many dietary and natural products including polyphenols have been widely studied as possible alternative treatment strategies for the management of autoimmune disorders. Polyphenols possess a wide-range of pharmacological and therapeutic properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. As immunomodulatory agents, polyphenols are emerging pharmaceutical tools for management of various autoimmune disorders including vitiligo, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis (MS). Polyphenols activate intracellular pathways such as arachidonic acid dependent pathway, nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) signaling pathway, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) pathway, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/Akt) signaling pathway and epigenetic modulation, which regulate the host's immune response. This timely review discusses putative points of action of polyphenols in autoimmune diseases, characterizing their efficacy and safety as therapeutic agents in managing autoimmune disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-657
Number of pages11
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Autoimmunity
  • Epigenetic modulation
  • MAPKs
  • NF-κB
  • PI3K/Akt
  • Polyphenols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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