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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jul 5;295(1):62-6.

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)) quencher.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, 11937 US Hwy 271, Tyler, TX 75708, USA.


Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a major component of food flavoring turmeric (Curcuma longa), and has been reported to be anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory. Although curcumin was shown to have antioxidant properties, its exact antioxidant nature has not been fully investigated. In this report we have investigated the possible antioxidant properties of curcumin using EPR spectroscopic techniques. Curcumin was found to inhibit the (1)O(2)-dependent 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine N-oxyl (TEMPO) formation in a dose-dependent manner. (1)O(2) was produced in a photosensitizing system using rose bengal as sensitizer, and was detected as TEMP-(1)O(2) adducts by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopic techniques using TEMP as a spin-trap. Curcumin at 2.75 microM caused 50% inhibition of TEMP-(1)O(2) adduct formation. However, curcumin only marginally inhibited (24% maximum at 80 microM) reduction of ferricytochrome c in a xanthine-xanthine oxidase system demonstrating that it is not an effective superoxide radical scavenger. Additionally, there was minor inhibition of DMPO-OH adduct formation by curcumin (solubilized in ethanol) when an ethanol control was included in the EPR spin-trapping study, suggesting that curcumin may not be an effective hydroxyl radical scavenger. Together these data demonstrate that curcumin is able only to effectively quench singlet oxygen at very low concentration in aqueous systems.

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