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Phytochemicals, such as monoterpenes, polyphenols, curcuminoids, and flavonoids, are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and procognitive effects. In this study, the effects of several polyhydroxy flavonoids, as derivatives of differently substituted 5,7-dihydroxy-4H-chromen-4-one including apigenin, genistein, luteolin, kaempferol, quercetin, gossypetin, and phloretin with different lipophilicities (cLogP), as well as topological polar surface area (TPSA), were tested for induction of Ca2+ transients by α7 human nicotinic acetylcholine (α7 nACh) receptors expressed in SH-EP1 cells. Apigenin (10 μM) caused a significant potentiation of ACh (30 μM)-induced Ca2+ transients, but did not affect Ca2+ transients induced by high K+ (60 mM) containing solutions. Co-application of apigenin with ACh was equally effective as apigenin preincubation. However, the effect of apigenin significantly diminished by increasing ACh concentrations. The flavonoids tested also potentiated α7 nACh mediated Ca2+ transients with descending potency (highest to lowest) by genistein, gossypetin, kaempferol, luteolin, phloretin, quercetin, and apigenin. The specific binding of α7 nACh receptor antagonist [125I]-bungarotoxin remained unchanged in the presence of any of the tested polyhydroxy flavonoids, suggesting that these compounds act as positive allosteric modulators of the α7-nACh receptor in SH-EP1 cells. These findings suggest a clinical potential for these phytochemicals in the treatment of various human diseases from pain to inflammation and neural disease.


This article was originally published in Cells, volume 10, in 2021.


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