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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Apr 15;212(2):110-8. Epub 2005 Aug 29.

Quercetin protects human hepatoma HepG2 against oxidative stress induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide.

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Departamento de Metabolismo y Nutrición, Instituto del Frío (CSIC), C/José Antonio Novais, 10, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Flavonols such as quercetin, have been reported to exhibit a wide range of biological activities related to their antioxidant capacity. The objective of the present study was to investigate the protective effect of quercetin on cell viability and redox status of cultured HepG2 cells submitted to oxidative stress induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide. Concentrations of reduced glutathione and malondialdehyde, generation of reactive oxygen species and activity and gene expression of antioxidant enzymes were used as markers of cellular oxidative status. Pretreatment of HepG2 with 10 microM quercetin completely prevented lactate dehydrogenase leakage from the cells. Pretreatment for 2 or 20 h with all doses of quercetin (0.1-10 microM) prevented the decrease of reduced glutathione and the increase of malondialdehyde evoked by tert-butyl hydroperoxide in HepG2 cells. Reactive oxygen species generation induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide was significantly reduced when cells were pretreated for 2 or 20 h with 10 microM and for 20 h with 5 microM quercetin. Finally, some of the quercetin treatments prevented the significant increase of glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase and catalase activities induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide. Gene expression of antioxidant enzymes was also affected by the treatment with the polyphenol. The results of the biomarkers analyzed clearly show that treatment of HepG2 cells in culture with the natural dietary antioxidant quercetin strongly protects the cells against an oxidative insult.

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