Interaction of saffron and its constituents with Nrf2 signaling pathway: A review

Document Type : Review Article


1 School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Targeted Drug Delivery Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Pharmacodynamics and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

4 Pharmaceutical Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Saffron (Crocus sativus) is a natural compound and its constituents such as crocin, crocetin, and safranal have many pharmacological properties such as anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antigenotoxic, anti-depressant, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective. The nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway plays an important role against inflammation, oxidative stress, and carcinogenesis. In the regulation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway, kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (keap1) is the most studied pathway. In this review, we gathered various studies and describe the pharmacological effects of saffron and its constituents with their related mechanisms of action, particularly the Nrf2 signaling pathway. In this review, we used search engines or electronic databases including Scopus, Web of Science, and Pubmed, without time limitation. The search keywords contained saffron, “Crocus sativus”, crocetin, crocin, safranal, picrocrocin, “nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2“, and Nrf2. Saffron and its constituents could have protective properties through various mechanisms particularly the Nrf2/HO-1/Keap1 signaling pathway in different tissues such as the liver, heart, brain, pancreas, lung, joints, colon, etc. The vast majority of studies discussed in this review indicate that saffron and its constituents could induce the Nrf2 signaling pathway leading to its anti-oxidant and therapeutic effects.


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