Food Constituents

Secondary food constituents in general - and flavonoids in particular - are known to impact various biological processes.

Among them, anthocyanins – the deeply colored compounds present in many fruits and berries - stand out for their extraordinary anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory capacities and chemopreventive properties. Our research in this field focusses on the elucidation of those flavonoid’s impact on biomolecular pathways, such as oxidative stress and related cellular defense mechanisms as the NRF-2 pathway as well as the inhibition of growth signaling or pro-inflammatory gene expression. Special emphasis is given to the influence of anthocyanins on the activity other bioactive compounds, e.g. food contaminants or drugs.

Another subclass of flavonoids are the isoflavones, with genistein as impact compound. They are mainly found in Leguminosae like soy beans and have become famous for their estrogenic activity. Thus, they are marketed as food supplements for post-menopausal women. Our research in this regard focusses on a characterization of reverse side effects of isoflavones like their genotoxic properties, but also on the influence of phase I metabolism on their toxicity or on their interaction with other xenoestrogens like Fusarium mycotoxins.

We are also assessing the positive influence of coffee constituents on human health, with emphasis on anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.

Of note, there is also ongoing research on some other flavonoids, like the prenylated chalkones found in hops.