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Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 Mar 15;34(6):648-62.

The relationship between the antioxidant and the antibacterial properties of galloylated catechins and the structure of phospholipid model membranes.

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Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Miguel Hern√°ndez University, Elche-Alicante, Spain


The effects of four catechins, (+)-catechin (C), (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epicatechin gallate (ECG), and (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), on the physical properties of phospholipid model membranes and the correlation to their antioxidant and antibacterial capacities have been studied by using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), fluorescence spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy (IR), AAPH-induced oxidation, and leakage experiments. DSC data revealed that galloylated catechins, especially ECG, affected the physical properties of both the phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) bilayers dramatically. Galloylated catechins showed higher phospholipid/water partition coefficients than their homologues and were immersed in the phospholipid palisade intercalating within the hydrocarbon chains, ECG being at the deepest position. In contrast, nongalloylated catechins presented a shallow location close to the phospholipid/water interface. ECG also exhibited the highest antioxidant capacity against lipid peroxidation, which correlated with its strong effect on DPH fluorescence anisotropy (as observed by the increase of the lipid order of fluid PC bilayers) and with the presence of highly cooperative transitions as seen by DSC. We propose that the high antioxidant capacity of some galloylated catechins such as ECG could be partially due to the formation of membrane structures showing resistance to detergent solubilization and in which the phospholipids have tightly packed acyl chains and highly hydrated phosphate groups. Significantly, PE was found to be essential to the promotion of carboxyfluorescein leakage from bacterial model membranes by galloylated catechins, indicating that their bactericidal activity, at least at the membrane level, could be due to the specific effect of these catechins on PE.

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