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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 541971, 18 pages
Review Article

The Role of Dietary Polyphenols on Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis: Molecular Mechanisms and Behavioural Effects on Depression and Anxiety

1Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, 125 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9NU, UK
2Program of Neurobiology, Laboratory of Neurobiology of the Retina, Institute of Biophysics, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Bloco C, sala 31, Avenida Carlos Chagas Filho 373, 21941-902 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
3Laboratory of Panic & Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Avenida Venceslau Brás, 71 Fundos, 22290-140 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 10 February 2012; Revised 10 April 2012; Accepted 17 April 2012

Academic Editor: Tullia Maraldi

Copyright © 2012 Gisele Pereira Dias et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although it has been long believed that new neurons were only generated during development, there is now growing evidence indicating that at least two regions in the brain are capable of continuously generating functional neurons: the subventricular zone and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) is a widely observed phenomenon verified in different adult mammalian species including humans. Factors such as environmental enrichment, voluntary exercise, and diet have been linked to increased levels of AHN. Conversely, aging, stress, anxiety and depression have been suggested to hinder it. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are still unclear and yet to be determined. In this paper, we discuss some recent findings addressing the effects of different dietary polyphenols on hippocampal cell proliferation and differentiation, models of anxiety, and depression as well as some proposed molecular mechanisms underlying those effects with particular focus on those related to AHN. As a whole, dietary polyphenols seem to exert positive effects on anxiety and depression, possibly in part via regulation of AHN. Studies on the effects of dietary polyphenols on behaviour and AHN may play an important role in the approach to use diet as part of the therapeutic interventions for mental-health-related conditions.