The Targeted Impact of Flavones on Obesity-Induced Inflammation and the Potential Synergistic Role in Cancer and the Gut Microbiota.
Molecules. 2020 May 27 ;25(11). Epub 2020 May 27. PMID: 32471061
Obesity is an inflammatory disease that is approaching pandemic levels, affecting nearly 30% of the world's total population. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer, consequentially impacting the quality of life and imposing a serious socioeconomic burden. Hence, reducing obesity and related life-threatening conditions has become a paramount health challenge. The chronic systemic inflammation characteristic of obesity promotes adipose tissue remodeling and metabolic changes. Macrophages, the major culprits in obesity-induced inflammation, contribute to sustaining a dysregulated immune function, which creates a vicious adipocyte-macrophage crosstalk, leading to insulin resistance and metabolic disorders. Therefore, targeting regulatory inflammatory pathways has attracted great attention to overcome obesity and its related conditions. However, the lack of clinical efficacy and the undesirable side-effects of available therapeutic options for obesity provide compelling reasons for the need to identify additional approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity-induced inflammation. Plant-based active metabolites or nutraceuticals and diets with an increased content of these compounds are emerging as subjects of intense scientific investigation, due to their ability to ameliorate inflammatory conditions and offer safe and cost-effective opportunities to improve health. Flavones are a class of flavonoids with anti-obesogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Preclinical studies have laid foundations by establishing the potential role of flavones in suppressing adipogenesis, inducing browning, modulating immune responses in the adipose tissues, and hindering obesity-induced inflammation. Nonetheless, the understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the anti-obesogenic activity of flavones remains scarce and requires further investigations. This review recapitulates the molecular aspects of obesity-induced inflammation and the crosstalk between adipocytes and macrophages, while focusing on the current evidence on the health benefits of flavones against obesity and chronic inflammation, which has been positively correlated with an enhanced cancer incidence. We conclude the review by highlighting the areas of research warranting a deeper investigation, with an emphasis on flavones and their potential impact on the crosstalk between adipocytes, the immune system, the gut microbiome, and their role in the regulation of obesity.