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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2013 Jan;45(1):23-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2012.07.022. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

Anthocyanins block ischemia-induced apoptosis in the perfused heart and support mitochondrial respiration potentially by reducing cytosolic cytochrome c.

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  • 1Institute of Neurosciences, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Eiveniu str. 4, LT-50009 Kaunas, Lithuania.


Anthocynanins, found in fruits and vegetables, have a variety of protective properties, which have generally been attributed to their antioxidant capacity. However, antioxidants are generally strong reductants, and some reductants have been found to block apoptosis by reducing cytosolic cytochrome c, which prevents caspase activation. We tested the ability of various anthocyanins: to reduce cytochrome c, to support cytochrome c-induced mitochondrial respiration and to inhibit apoptosis induced by heart ischemia. Anthocyanins such as delphinidin-3-glucoside (Dp3G) and cyanidin-3-glucoside (Cy3G) were able to reduce cytochrome c directly and rapidly, whereas pelargonidin-3-glucoside (Pg3G), malvinidin-3-glucoside (Mv3G) and peonidin-3-glucoside (Pn3G) had relatively low cytochrome c reducing activities. Dp3G and Cy3G but not Pg3G supported mitochondrial state 4 respiration in the presence of exogenous cytochrome c. Pre-perfusion of hearts with 20 μM Cy3G but not Pg3G prevented ischemia-induced caspase activation. This suggests that the ability of anthocyanins to block caspase activation may be due to their ability to reduce cytosolic cytochrome c. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Bioenergetic dysfunction, adaptation and therapy.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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