About this Research Topic
Vitamins are important biological molecules implicated in multiple physiological functions. In the central nervous system, they are involved in mechanisms such as neuronal differentiation and maturation, or neurotransmitter synthesis and release, but the role of some vitamins as brain antioxidants is of growing interest. Neuronal metabolism has a very high rate and generates considerable amounts of reactive oxygen species and free radicals, which accumulate inside neurons and lead to altered cellular homeostasis and integrity, and finally irreversible damage and cell death. Thus, a physiological antioxidant system is needed in order to keep an adequate redox balance.
Under normal conditions and at a young age, neurons have a complex and efficient system to maintain proper homeostasis, but this system is compromised over the course of normal aging as well as in several neurological disorders. It seems that the antioxidant actions exerted by some vitamins on the central nervous system may be important in order to maintain good brain homeostasis. Vitamins such as vitamin C and/or E have demonstrated to be powerful scavengers of free radicals and reactive oxygen species, and thus might alleviate the redox imbalance and exert neuroprotective functions. In general, the concentration of vitamins detected in regular diet is not enough to regulate brain homeostasis, and it has long been postulated that supplementation with dietary antioxidants can have benefits on brain redox balance.
However, many studies carried out on multiple human populations have not shown conclusive results. This can be due to the high difficulty of having true control populations, but also to the chemical nature of the molecules used in those studies. Synthetic cocktails of dietary supplements seem to have lower effects than natural antioxidants. Thus, it would be interesting to explore the extraction of several natural products in order to increase the concentration of natural molecules as food extracts. The antioxidant effects of vitamins can also be enhanced by improving their bioavailability. It is also important to learn the mechanisms employed by vitamins to enter into neurons, in order to determine whether these compounds correctly perform their antioxidant actions. Moreover, a correlation has been described between vitamin concentration in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. An excess of vitamins can be as harmful as their deficiency, and for this reason it is important to determine the concentration of antioxidant vitamins in blood.
In sum, the antioxidant properties of some vitamins are well known, but their definite actions on neuronal metabolism and brain function have not been completely explored. The aim of this Research Topic is to contribute to a better knowledge of the implication of antioxidant vitamins on neuroprotection from several approaches.
Keywords: Antioxidants, vitamins, central nervous system, oxidative stress, neuroprotection