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Phytochemistry. 2006 Sep;67(18):2058-70. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Structure-radical scavenging activity relationships of flavonoids.

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Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


The objective of this work is to establish the structural requirements of flavonoids for appreciable radical-scavenging activity (RSA) and elucidate a comprehensive mechanism that can explain their activity. To this end, the RSA of 52 flavonoids against 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl was determined. The relative change in energy (DeltaH(f)) associated with the formation of various flavonoidal and other phenolic radicals and also the spin distribution in these radicals were determined using computational programmes. By correlating experimental data with DeltaH(f), structural features that affect activity have been identified and considered in perspective. It was shown with compelling evidences that the RSA of flavonoids could be mapped to one of their ring systems, making it possible to study their RSA by dissecting their structures and designing representative simpler models. Consequently, hydroxytoluene units were demonstrated to successfully account for the RSA of flavonoids due to ring B and also to satisfactorily do so for activities due to ring A. Further, a comprehensive model for the radical scavenging reactions of flavonoids (and in general, phenolic compounds), which could account for hydrogen atom donation and the termination of aroxyl radicals, was proposed. Finally, prediction of structural features that could endow flavonoids with appreciable radical scavenging capability was made by considering the stability data and the ease of termination. In conclusion, the underlying molecular phenomena of the RSA of flavonoids could be explained by the ease of hydrogen atom abstraction and the ease of the termination of the flavonoidal aroxyl radicals.

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