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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Aug;96(3-4):271-8.

Estrogen A-ring structure and antioxidative effect on lipoproteins.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.


The oxidative modification of lipoprotein particles is an important step in atherogenesis. Estrogens are known to be powerful antioxidants independently of their binding to the estrogen receptors and the hormonal functions. We explored the structural determinants for the antioxidant activity of a large number of estrogen derivatives (n=43) in an aqueous lipoprotein solution in vitro by monitoring formation of conjugated dienes. Our results indicate that estrogen derivatives with an unsubstituted A-ring phenolic hydroxyl group with one or two adjacent methoxy groups provide strongest antioxidant protection of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). The electron donating methoxy groups may enhance the antioxidant effect by weakening the phenolic OH bond and providing stability to the formed phenoxyl radical. With some exceptions, compounds completely lacking unsubstituted hydroxyl groups in the A-ring exhibited no antioxidant effect, e.g. the most hydrophilic "tetrol" compound with three unsubstituted A-ring hydroxyl groups had no antioxidant effect. Moreover, additional hydroxyl groups in the B-, C- or D-ring seemed to weaken the antioxidant effect. Accordingly, both the presence of unsubstituted hydroxyl groups and adjacent substituents, as well as the lipophilicity of the derivatives determine the antioxidant activity of estrogen derivatives in aqueous lipoprotein solutions.

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