University of Limerick
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Comparison of antioxidant capacity and network pharmacology of phloretin and phlorizin against neuroinflammation in traumatic brain injury

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-12, 10:46 authored by Kubra Kizil Ongay, Daniel GranatoDaniel Granato, GEORGE BARRETOGEORGE BARRETO

Neuroinflammation is a hallmark of traumatic brain injury (TBI)’s acute and chronic phases. Despite the medical and scientific advances in recent years, there is still no effective treatment that mitigates the oxidative and inflammatory damage that affects neurons and glial cells. Therefore, searching for compounds with a broader spectrum of action that can regulate various inflammatory signaling pathways is of clinical interest. In this study, we determined not only the in vitro antioxidant capacity of apple pomace phenolics, namely, phlorizin and its metabolite, phloretin, but we also hypothesize that the use of these bioactive molecules may have potential use in TBI. We explored the antioxidant effects of both compounds in vitro (DPPH, iron-reducing capacity (IRC), and Folin– Ciocalteu reducing capacity (FCRC)), and using network pharmacology, we investigated the proteins involved in their protective effects in TBI. Our results showed that the antioxidant properties of phloretin were superior to those of phlorizin in the DPPH (12.95 vs. 3.52 mg ascorbic acid equivalent (AAE)/L), FCRC (86.73 vs. 73.69 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/L), and iron-reducing capacity (1.15 vs. 0.88 mg GAE/L) assays. Next, we examined the molecular signature of both compounds and found 11 proteins in common to be regulated by them and involved in TBI. Meta-analysis and GO functional enrichment demonstrated their implication in matrix metalloproteinases, p53 signaling, and cell secretion/transport. Using MCODE and Pearson’s correlation analysis, a subcluster was generated. We identified ESR1 (estrogen receptor alpha) as a critical cellular hub being regulated by both compounds and with potential therapeutic use in TBI. In conclusion, our study suggests that because of their vast antioxidant effects, probably acting on estrogen receptors, phloretin and phlorizin may be repurposed for TBI treatment due to their ease of obtaining and low cost. 


Coupling neurosciences and artificial intelligence to potentiate pharmacological actions of tibolone over neuroglobin signalling in traumatic brain injury

Science Foundation Ireland

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Molecules 28(3), 919



Department or School

  • Biological Sciences
  • School of Engineering