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Curr Med Chem. 2013;20(36):4540-74.

Chemistry and pharmacological properties of some natural and synthetic antioxidants for heavy metal toxicity.

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Division of Regulatory Toxicology, Defence Research and Development, Establishment, Jhansi Road, Gwalior, M.P. 474 002, India.


Heavy metals are known to cause oxidative deterioration of bio-molecules by initiating free radical mediated chain reaction resulting in lipid per-oxidation, protein oxidation and oxidation of nucleic acid like DNA and RNA. The development of effective dual functioning antioxidants, possessing both metal-chelating and free radical-scavenging properties should bring into play. Administration of natural and synthetic antioxidants like, quercetin, catechin, taurine, captopril, gallic acid, melatonin, N-acetyl cysteine, α- lipoic acid and others have been recognized in the disease prevention and clinical recovery against heavy metal intoxication. These antioxidants affect biological systems not only through direct quenching of free radicals but also via chelation of toxic metal(s). These antioxidants also, have the capacity to enhance cellular antioxidant defense mechanism by regenerating endogenous antioxidants, such as glutathione and vitamin C and E. They also influence cellular signaling and trigger redox sensitive regulatory pathways. The reactivity of antioxidants in protecting against heavy metal induced oxidative stress depends upon their structural properties, their partitioning abilities between hydrophilic and lipophilic environment and their hydrogen donation antioxidant properties. Herein, we review the structural, biochemical and pharmacological properties of selected antioxidants with particular reference to their ability to (i) chelate heavy metals from its complex (ii) ameliorate free radical (iii) terminate heavy metal induced free radical chain reaction (iv) regenerate endogenous antioxidants and, (v) excretion of metal without its redistribution.

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